Partisan divide returns to US politics over coronavirus next steps

Partisan divide returns to US politics over coronavirus next steps

The two parties disagree over the need for a fourth legislative package to revive the crisis-hit U.S. economy. 

Fresh partisan divisions emerged Sunday as to the next steps for the U.S. Congress in tackling the coronavirus crisis as the top House of Representatives Republican expressed doubt on the need for more economic stimulus legislation and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated she plans to move forward with it.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed into law a $2.2 trillion aid package–the largest in history–to address the economic downturn caused by the pandemic after the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate put aside political differences to pass it nearly unanimously.

This is the third legislative package approved by lawmakers to address the crisis. Trump on Sunday indicated that he would support a fourth relief bill if necessary.

Yet House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was more cautious, telling Fox News that the government should wait and measure the impact of the first three.

By contrast, Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program that the three bills already signed into law were merely a “down payment.”

“We have to do more,” Pelosi said, adding that the existing bills were insufficient because “every single day, the need grows.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he expects the stimulus package signed by Trump on Friday will provide economic relief for Americans for roughly 10 weeks.

“We also have the (coronavirus) task force and the medical professionals making recommendations to the president about when they think the economy will be re-opened, and if for whatever reason this takes longer than we think, we will go back to Congress and get more support for the American economy,” Mnuchin told CBS.

McCarthy’s comments raise doubts as to just how quickly the two parties could come together to pass a fourth legislative package.

The latest aid package included a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 apiece to millions of U.S. families. It also provided $350 billion for small-business loans, $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid, and at least $100 billion for hospitals and related health systems. 


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Paul Imison
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