U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks to members to the media after participating in a signing ceremony of H.R. 748, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, alongside congressional leadership in the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 27, 2020.
Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg | Getty Images
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to kick off the next phase of the U.S. coronavirus response with an infrastructure bill after the chamber’s planned April 20 return, she said Wednesday.
“I think we come back April 20, God willing and coronavirus willing, but shortly thereafter we should be able to move forward,” she told reporters as House Democrats unveiled provisions they hope the next government relief bill will include.
The California Democrat, along with House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., and key committee chairs Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Frank Pallone, D-N.J., outlined a sprawling infrastructure proposal they say will help the U.S. recover from the pandemic’s destruction. The plan, based on a five-year, $760 billion framework unveiled in January, includes money for community health centers, improvements to drinking water systems, expanded access to broadband, and upgrades to roads, bridges, railroads and public transit agencies.
Infrastructure, one of the areas in which Democrats hoped to work with President Donald Trump when he first took office, has jumped to the forefront of Washington’s policy discussions again as the government tries to mitigate the outbreak’s dire human and economic toll. Trump called Tuesday for a $2 trillion infrastructure plan as part of the government’s fourth relief proposal, saying he wants to focus on creating jobs as the country recovers.
Pelosi said she is “pleased the president has returned to his interest” in the issue. She called an infrastructure proposal “essential because of the historic nature of the health and economic emergency that we are confronting.”
Earlier Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he has had “ongoing conversations” with Democrats about infrastructure.
“And we’ll continue to have those conversations,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not echoed Pelosi’s call for swift action on another response plan. On Tuesday, he told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he first wants to see how effective an unprecedented $2 trillion package passed last week is in limiting the damage from the crisis.
“So let’s see how things are going, and respond accordingly,” he said. “But let’s not, I’m not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items that they would not otherwise be able to pass.”
On Wednesday, Pelosi said she hopes the next legislation includes vote-by-mail requirements, a Democratic priority that Republicans have criticized.