Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the U.S. House is working this week to finish a stimulus bill that would include a $1,400 direct payment, enhanced unemployment insurance benefits, and aid to state and local governments.
Pelosi said the fast-tracked bill could be ready for a vote of the full House by next week. The bill is expected to cost $1.9 trillion.
A bipartisan group of senators is pushing back on a stimulus package with that kind of price tag, saying it provides too much money to those who do not need it, according to a report from Politico.
The group of 16 senators, led by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, held a Zoom call with Biden administration members on Sunday, Politico reported. According to Politico, several senators said that they believe the $1,400 direct payment should be reserved for low-income Americans.
“It’s hard for me to see when we just passed $900 billion of assistance why we would have a package that big,” Collins said last week in an interview. “Maybe a couple of months from now, the needs will be evident and we will need to do something significant, but I’m not seeing it right now.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, who was on the call Sunday, said the participants agreed “that the more targeted the aid is the more effective it can be,” The Associated Press reported.
Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, told the AP the opening talks were a “serious effort.”
“There was not a hint of cynicism or lack of commitment to at least trying to work something out,” King said. “If they were just trying to jam this through, I don’t think it would have interrupted the Packers game,” he said, referring to the National Football League conference championship games held on Sunday.
King told reporters that the group agreed that the focus of the bill should be speeding up vaccine distribution and COVID-19 testing and tracing.
King also shared with reporters his concerns over the cost of the package, coming on the heels of the $900 billion package passed near the end of December.
“This isn’t Monopoly money,” King said.
Many Senate Republicans have spoken publicly of their opposition to the cost of the proposed bill, with some going as far as calling the proposed legislation a “non-starter.”
“I suspect the whole package is a non-starter, but it’s got plenty of starters in it. And a lot of them are things that we proposed in terms of more assistance to the states,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, referring to money for vaccine distribution and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There’s some things in there that aren’t going to happen. There’s some things that can happen. And that’s how this process should work.”
When the Senate will take up a stimulus bill is the question some are asking, as the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is set to begin on Feb. 9.
The House impeachment managers are expected to walk the article of impeachment of Trump across the Capitol to the Senate at around 7 p.m. Monday. The delivery of the article will trigger the start of the trial process.
U.S. senators, who serve as jurors in an impeachment trial, will be sworn in on Tuesday.
The trial itself will begin on Feb. 9, giving the House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team two weeks to file briefs and finalize their legal preparations.
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