WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Negotiations are ongoing between Senate leaders and the Trump administration on what will be included in the next COVID-19 relief package.
The House has already passed its version of the legislation, and House Democratic leaders say the Senate needs to catch up.
“The House and Senate are pretty far apart in terms of their priorities,” Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-New York, said.
But Brindisi said that with negotiations underway, he’s optimistic that House Democrats’ priorities will be addressed in the next round of relief, which include helping those who remain unemployed and providing state and local governments with the financial assistance they need.
Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, said lawmakers must also address the lack of testing supplies and personal protective equipment.
“Our healthcare workers are still saying they’re facing PPE shortages,” Langevin said.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, said the House-passed HEROES Act already addressed those key issues.
“We put almost a trillion dollars of aid to cities and states so that in the middle of this pandemic they won’t be forced to lay people off who are on the front lines protecting us,” Cicilline said.
But Senate Republicans have already rejected the House’s proposal.
“This is going to be something really negotiated through the White House and the Senate,” Rep. Tom Reed, R-New York, said.
Reed said there is plenty of common ground, but the new bill must revamp the federal unemployment subsidy, which at $600 a week is paying some workers more to stay home than they’d make on the job.
“Assist people during the difficult times, but in no way should it financially disincentivize you to return to work,” Reed said.
Lawmakers in both parties have signaled support for more direct payments to Americans, but how much money and who will receive those payments remains up in the air.