House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Thursday said the $3 trillion HEROES Act the House passed in May was a “gift” to the Trump administration because it laid out a roadmap on how to tackle the growing COVID-19 crisis.
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., accused the Trump Administration and Senate Republicans of dithering on the coronavirus response since the House passed the massive relief bill — the most expensive in U.S. history — and implied quicker action would have prevented more hardship.
“What we have in the HEROES Act was a gift to them,” Pelosi said at a Capitol news conference Thursday before Senate Republicans were set to unveil their coronavirus legislation that is expected to come in at a much smaller cost. “The legislation provides a] strategic plan for testing, tracing, treating and, of course, mask-wearing [and] sanitation.”
Pelosi also blasted Trump for failing to set an example for the country by refusing to wear a mask in public for months. (Trump recently started encouraging the practice, which has been recommended by health officials as an effective way to stop the spread of the contagious virus.)
“So, the other day when the president embraced masks, what he was doing was admitting how wrong he was for months,” Pelosi said. “And in that period of time, many more people died.”
Coronavirus has infected nearly 3.9 million and killed 142,000 in the U.S.
The Democratic leaders pointed out how coronavirus cases and deaths have multiplied since the House passed its legislation on May 15 that would have delivered $915 billion in state and local aid; a new $200 billion “heroes” fund for hazard pay for essential workers; $100 billion for K-12 and higher education and $75 billion for coronavirus testing.
The bill extended add-on unemployment benefits of $600 weekly in addition to state benefits through January 2021 and provided direct payments to eligible individuals of $1,200 and up to $6,000 per household.
Republicans panned the legislation as too costly and unnecessary at the time, but as the virus continues to wreak havoc on public health and the economy, the Senate GOP and White House are set to release their own plan.
The Republicans’ $1 trillion proposal won’t include a payroll tax cut that Trump wanted, or new money for cash-strapped states and cities, which are clamoring for funds. But the GOP proposes gives $105 billion to help schools reopen and $15 billion for child care centers to create safe environments for youngsters during the pandemic.
The $600 weekly unemployment benefits boost that is expiring Friday would be cut back, too. The GOP measure does forge an immediate agreement with Democrats on another round of $1,200 checks to most American adults.
The must-have centerpiece for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is liability protection for businesses, schools and others from coronavirus-related lawsuits.