Pelosi Demands Increased Unemployment Insurance, Medicaid, and Paid Sick Leave in Stimulus Deal

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a Friday letter to rank-and-file Democrats she would not greenlight a major coronavirus stimulus deal with the GOP unless it “greatly” increases unemployment insurance and Medicaid and expands paid and sick family leave.

Pelosi wrote to House Democrats as the House and Senate engaged in intense, bipartisan negotiations on a stimulus package likely to cost more than $1 trillion. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has set up a Senate vote to advance a deal on Sunday, even as the two sides continued talking on Friday.

“Our committees are hard at work on legislation that is truly visionary, fast-acting, and evidence-based,” Pelosi, a California Democrat, said. “They are also engaged in conversations with the Senate about provisions that could be added to improve the Senate bill.”

McConnell released a $1 trillion proposal on Thursday that would provide forgivable loans to small businesses, $208 billion in loans to the airlines and other major industries economically harmed by the coronavirus, and direct payments of up to $1,200 for certain middle-class and lower-income earners.

Pelosi has rejected the proposal and said it is “not at all pro-worker and puts corporations ahead of working people.”

Pelosi said the Senate bill must focus on “rebuilding our healthcare infrastructure on a national scale and securing the resources to test and treat everyone.”

The two parties are negotiating a compromise. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, acting on behalf of President Trump, is engaged in talks with Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.

McConnell is aiming for a deal by late tonight so that staff can draft the measure Saturday in time for the vote to advance it on Sunday.

Lawmakers are debating whether to pass a measure with direct cash payments or expanded unemployment insurance, senators said Friday.

The measure will be the third spending package to address the coronavirus.

“These bills aren’t going to be perfect,” GOP Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said. “But the issue here is boldness and also quickness.”

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