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The House leadership later Tuesday will release a massive coronavirus relief legislation that includes more direct payments to Americans, expanded unemployment insurance and aid to state and local governments.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters that the text of legislation will be unveiled later Tuesday and he anticipates a vote on the relief package on Friday.
Like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., signaled last week, Hoyer said this legislation will be big to meet the needs of the American people reeling from forced economic shutdowns and widespread illness and death.
“This is an unprecedented time in our history,” Hoyer said. “…And as a result, we need to respond in unprecedented ways with unprecedented resources.”
The centerpiece of the legislation will be assistance for state, local and tribal governments to help plug budget holes from coronavirus crisis spending and declining tax revenues. Democrats billed this as help for the “heroes” in the public service workforce, such as first responders, teachers and transportation workers, who are at risk for layoffs.
The package will include more direct payments, beyond the $1,200 check most Americans received under earlier legislation, and more money for unemployment assistance. Hoyer declined to discuss the amount or details until the text is released.
In a nod to progressive demands, the legislation will include student loan relief and rent and mortgage assistance, Hoyer confirmed.
House Democrats will provide more funding for testing, contact tracing and treatment for victims and support for hospitals and health care providers, Hoyer said.
The legislation will provide expanded food assistance to struggling families through SNAP benefits, funding for elections and mail-in voting and funds for the struggling U.S. Postal Service.
Hoyer alerted the House members, which have been away on recess, to return to Washington for votes on Friday on the fifth round of coronavirus legislation as well as a resolution to allow for proxy voting or virtual meetings — though Hoyer said no bipartisan agreement has been reached yet.
The House Rules Committee will meet Thursday to prepare for the Friday floor debate on the coronavirus legislation and the proxy proposal.
Unlike the first four rounds of coronavirus relief, this bill is already proving to be more contentious with Republicans wanting to hit the brakes on spending. The White House wanted a payroll tax cut in any new legislation and Senate Republicans want protection for businesses from lawsuits.
But neither the tax cut nor liability protection is in the House bill.
“That is not our focus nor do we think that ought to be a priority,” Hoyer said of the business liability protections.
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