Apr 19, 2020 - Health

Battle lines drawn over next stimulus bill

Mitch McConnell

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Now that the interim coronavirus funding bill is approaching the finish line, a heated debate over a much bigger phase 4 rescue package has picked back up, according to conversations with multiple House and Senate aides.

The big picture: At the forefront of the discussion is filling what Democrats see as the gaps in the interim bill — the biggest being more money for the states. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) proposed a $500 billion fund Sunday night for state and local governments to be included in the next stimulus bill.

What they're saying: The interim bill "is only gonna cover a very short list of discrete things, so there's more work," a House Democratic aide told Axios.

  • "The second biggest microphone in the country right now after Donald Trump is the governors. And the governors are asking for more state and local funding. So it puts Trump and the Republicans in a difficult place when you've got bipartisan pressure to support this," a senior Democratic aide said.

But Trump administration officials think a broader stimulus deal is weeks, if not months, away — and some say these types of programs might not be needed by then if state economies are opened up again.

  • "I would put the skids on [phase 4 talks] because right now we've provided what we need to. We're replenishing the funds that need to be replenished, as of Monday," a senior White House official told Axios.
  • "The ink isn't even dry on these other packages, and the money isn't even out the door yet. Let's focus on these current programs first," a Trump administration official said. "Plus, we're already seeing some states open back up. This is premature."

The bottom line: The earliest a phase 4 bill could be passed is May 4, when the House and Senate are slated to return to the Hill.

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