Democrats weigh next steps after Trump backs bigger stimulus
WASHINGTON — Some House Democrats are keeping pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring a new coronavirus relief bill up for a vote next week as they look to signal to voters that the party is pursuing a deal to bolster the economy.
Pelosi said Thursday that voting on some version of a Democratic stimulus bill is one of the options that's been under discussion within the party to break the impasse with the White House and Senate Republicans.
Some Democrats want to vote again on the $3.4 trillion stimulus package the House passed in May, she said at a news conference, while some lawmakers don't want to advance any legislation until they have an agreement with the Trump administration.
"Others will say let's just put our own proposal on the floor," Pelosi added.
Pelosi expressed confidence that Democrats are united in their approach and that she felt no pressure to change her strategy. "We are in a good place," she said.
Swing-district Democrats have privately pressed for a vote on a $2.2 trillion bill representing the current Democratic offer in negotiations, even if there is little chance of it getting through the Republican-controlled Senate. But Pelosi and other members of party leadership insist that no decision has been made on holding another vote without first reaching some kind of deal with Republicans.
President Donald Trump's embrace on Wednesday of a bigger stimulus package than his administration had previously backed and that Senate Republicans have said they'd go for has revived some hopes that a deal could be struck before the November election.
But there have been no new negotiations between Pelosi and the White House since talks broke off last month and many lawmakers remain skeptical that an agreement can be pulled off.
Trump said he liked "the larger numbers" in a compromise $1.5 trillion stimulus plan from a bipartisan group of House lawmakers even though many Republicans have dismissed it as too big. Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer welcomed Trump's shift while reinforcing their demand for a $2.2 trillion package.
"We have come down a trillion dollars" from the bill passed in May, Pelosi said. "It's hard to see how you can go any lower when you only have a greater need."
While Republicans such as Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and John Cornyn of Texas have suggested the $1.5 trillion plan from the Problem Solvers Caucus could be the basis of a deal, many others said their wasn't enough GOP support for that much spending.
"This used to be the White House versus Pelosi up until about now — now the president's coming in and saying we can maybe go to $1.5 trillion," Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said Thursday in a Bloomberg TV interview. "He better be careful of that because I don't think that will get through the United States Senate."
Adding to the pressure is the calendar. The general election that will decide control of the White House and Congress is 47 days away. The House is scheduled to leave town Oct. 2 and the Senate the week after that.
There is restlessness in the White House and in both parties in Congress about facing voters with no additional boost for the economy.
Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett predicted the House would vote on a revised stimulus bill either the end of next week or the following week.
"We're not going to go home without voting on something," he said.
House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, said that lawmakers are mulling the idea of a new vote but leaders are still hoping to reach an agreement with the White House in the next few days.
"The president is motivated to get stimulus checks out with his name on it," he said.
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