Worried that $2 trillion law wasn’t enough, Trump and congressional

Worried that $2 trillion law wasn’t enough, Trump and congressional leaders converge on need for new coronavirus economic package
Political leaders say more aid is needed to confront mounting economic problems

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-Mich.) walk through the Capitol on Friday. (Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg News)
(washingtonpos)—-Congressional leaders and the White House are converging on the need for a new assistance package to try to contain the coronavirus pandemic’s economic devastation, fearful that a $2 trillion bailout law enacted last month will have only a limited effect.

House Democrats are eyeing a package of spending increases that would “easily” cost more than $1 trillion, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told lawmakers Monday, according to two officials on the conference call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it. Democrats are looking to extend unemployment aid and small-business assistance for additional months, as well as authorize another round of direct checks to taxpayers.

Trump has signaled support for some of the ideas that Democrats back, such as expanded help for small-business owners and new bailout checks for households. Republican leaders, meanwhile, have also called for more corporate aid and money to boost the overwhelmed health-care system.

The rushed effort comes as the economy’s fortunes appear tethered to political decisions in Washington. A surge of demand for new Small Business Administration loans has overwhelmed the agency’s system, but the Dow Jones industrial average rose 1,627 points, or 7.7 percent, on Monday amid Wall Street optimism that the pandemic’s domestic spread could be slowing.

Although there is some overlap in the political ideas, significant differences remain, and it’s unclear whether the sides will be able to reach a deal in the coming weeks.

Democrats are pushing for wider-ranging relief measures to help hospitals, health-care workers, farmers, first responders and education programs, among other things. A group of House Democrats led by Rep. Joe Neguse (Colo.) plans to roll out a proposal for $250 billion to assist smaller cities and communities they say have been shortchanged on assistance so far. A number of congressional Republicans have demanded an expansion of a new $349 billion small-business loan program, and Trump has also said that initiative needs more money.

In a sign that lawmakers might be preparing to cut a deal, Pelosi has backed away from some of her recent proposals that Republicans found most objectionable, including a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he believes that Congress will have to act again to address health-care needs, among other things, opening the door to a pact. The two leaders spoke Thursday.

“All I can tell you is, I think we’re going to definitely need” another rescue bill, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Monday. “And I think it’s going to have to be big and bold because the problem is so huge.”

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