Democratic leadership has been quietly working to draft a relief package loaded with goodies from their long standing wish list – producing a price tag that could easily rival that of its predecessor.
Pelosi asked her committee chairs to deliver their plans earlier this week, suggesting that they should “think big” as negotiations continue on what the final bill will be.
Ranging from funding for state and local governments to bailouts for cultural institutes, the cost is well into the trillions according to one Democratic House aide who said, “We’re looking at a multitrillion-dollar bill.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that the money for hard-hit states and local governments could reach nearly $1 trillion on its own
The focal point of the Dems bill is the money for state and local governments but the bill also aims to secure more direct payments to Americans or expanded unemployment benefits, help for small businesses, the U.S. Postal Service, funding elections and more aid for testing and contact tracing.
Pelosi is also under immense pressure from the more radical left wing of her party who is insisting they use this next round of funding to help undocumented immigrants and minority communities who they claim are hardest hit by the virus.
Ocasio-Cortez has called $2,000 in monthly reoccurring payments to all families, regardless of immigration status, and $1,000 per child.
“We need to be able to play hardball so that working families can get the meaningful help that they need,” Ocasio-Cortez said about the progressive negotiating strategy.
Liberal demands also include a federal paycheck guarantee program for employers, essential worker protections and expanded health care.
Democrats also are looking to get funding for rent relief, more food security assistance, helping states implement mail-in voting, expanding broadband access, public housing support, and a $10.5 billion arts proposal that makes the controversial $25 million for the Kennedy Center in the “Phase 3” look like child’s play.
Democratic Rep Jerrold Nadler, who has been fighting for arts relief for months, said he’s not worried about the fiscal costs of assisting museums and concert halls because the federal government can borrow money at “practically negative interest rates” and can repay it when the economy recovers.
“I think we do have to give money to private cultural institutions, and I’m not concerned, frankly, about borrowing money by the trillions,” Nadler said.
Nadler penned a letter to House leadership on April 30 with members of the New York congressional delegation, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to implement a sizable bailout of the arts and cultural industry.
GOP leadership has had it qualms about passing another massive spending bill, however, as the first quarter stimulus has already forced the U.S. Treasury to borrow a record $3 trillion.
As House Democrats move forward drafting up expensive bills that look to throw money at everything and hope for the best, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters the Senate is taking stock of whether another costly piece of legislation is even needed.
“We think we ought to take a pause here, do a good job of evaluating what we’ve already done,” McConnell said.