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Pelosi eyes another round of checks to families before tackling infrastructure

The speaker said with coronavirus moving quickly across the U.S. communities “can’t afford to wait”
Image: Speaker of the House Pelosi speaks to news reporters ahead of a vote on the coronavirus relief bill on Capitol Hill in Washington
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks to news reporters ahead of a vote on the coronavirus relief bill on Capitol Hill on March 25, 2020.Tom Brenner / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Another round of economic stimulus to battle the coronavirus fallout, including more cash payments to Americans, should be the next priority for Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Friday.

President Donald Trump has said Congress should next tackle an infrastructure bill, and in recent days, Pelosi has said that the next stimulus bill could include public work projects.

But on Friday, she appeared to shift her position by stating that the acceleration of the coronavirus spread demands that lawmakers pass another measure that mirrors the $2 trillion package signed into law last month, including unemployment benefits and small business assistance, and delay infrastructure.

“While I'm very much in favor of doing some things we need to do to meet the needs — clean water, more broadband, the rest of that — that may have to be for a bill beyond this," Pelosi said in an appearance Friday on CNBC.

Trump and congressional leaders have been talking about passing an infrastructure bill for years, but partisan divisions and vastly differing goals have made any effort unable to gain traction. Trying to insert infrastructure into a stimulus bill would likely encounter the same kind of deep-seated differences.

“We must extend and expand this bipartisan legislation to meet the needs of the American people,” she said in the statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, appeared to cast some doubt on quickly moving to another stimulus bill, telling a Kentucky newspaper on Friday that he would prefer to first monitor how the $2 trillion package is implemented.

The coronavirus is moving quickly across the U.S. and communities “can’t afford to wait” for additional help, Pelosi said. Members of Congress are currently at home and not scheduled to return until April 20th.

“We must also provide the desperately needed resources for our hospitals, community health centers, health systems and health workers on the frontlines of this crisis,” Pelosi said.

The Trump administration is still working to distribute the boosted unemployment benefits and direct payments that were approved in the $2 trillion package.

Pelosi suggested that Congress would focus on an infrastructure package later on during the recovery process.

“As we fight the virus day to day, we must work on an infrastructure package for recovery that addresses some of the critical impacts and vulnerabilities in America that have been laid bare by the coronavirus,” she said.