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House committees to work on Covid relief package next week: Pelosi

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House committees to work on Covid relief package next week: Pelosi

Washington, Jan 22 (IANS) US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that House committees will work on a new Covid-19 relief package from next week.

“We’re getting ready for a Covid relief package. We’ll be working on that as we go,” Xinhua news agency quoted Pelosi as saying at her weekly press conference on Thursday.

“We’ll be doing our committee work all next week so that we are completely ready to go to the floor when we come back” at the beginning of February, she said.

Pelosi noted that the relief proposals from the Joe Biden administration build on many of the initiatives that were in previous packages drafted by House Democrats.

“It’s what the people need, what the country needs to crush the virus, put money in the pockets of the American people, and honour our heroes,” she said.

Pelosi’s remarks came after Janet Yellen, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, on Tuesday urged Congress to “act big” with a new Covid-19 relief package.

“Economists don’t always agree, but I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later,” Yellen said at her confirmation hearing virtually held by the Senate Finance Committee.

Last week, Biden last week unveiled a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief proposal which includes another round of direct payments to individuals, aid for state and local governments, increased unemployment benefits, as well as more funding for testing and vaccine distribution.

The proposal also includes direct payments of $1,400 per person for working families, which is on top of the $600 checks approved in the $900 billion relief package, bringing the total relief to $2,000.

It would boost federal unemployment benefits to $400 per week, up from the $300 per week approved in the $900 billion package, and extend the measure through the end of September.

The proposal also includes $350 billion in state and local government aid, a measure that has been sought by Democrats for months but has been rejected by Republicans in previous rounds of relief negotiations.

It’s unclear whether the Biden administration would secure enough votes for a new massive relief package as it drew opposition from a growing number of congressional Republicans.

“The only organising principle that I can discern is it seems to spend as much money as possible, seemingly for the sake of spending it,” Pat Toomey, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, said on Tuesday.

Toomey added that Biden’s proposed package does not help Americans most in need, and makes it harder to come to a bipartisan agreement.




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