Pelosi Announces COVID-19 Package While Talks With Trump Admin Continue

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) makes a statement at the U.S. Capitol March 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Speaker Pelosi spoke on the Families First Coronavirus Response A... WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) makes a statement at the U.S. Capitol March 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Speaker Pelosi spoke on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that the House will vote later on. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
March 13, 2020 2:54 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the House would be voting Friday on a package of proposals to address the coronavirus outbreak — a package that she had spent the last day and a half negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

It is unclear whether President Trump would sign such a measure, and House Republicans are reportedly hesitant to back it until Trump shows a public sign of support. After her remarks, there were indications that she was still negotiating with the administration, Politico reported, as House Republicans balked at getting behind the measure.

While Pelosi has the votes to pass it with just Democratic support in her chamber, whether the measure stands a chance in the Senate will likely depend on if she can get the buy-in of both House GOP lawmakers and Trump.

In her remarks announcing the bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Pelosi stressed its provision which will make coronavirus testing free — even for the uninsured.

“We can only defeat this outbreak if we have an accurate determination of its scale and scope,” she said. She also touted the measure’s 14 days of paid sick leave, its “strengthening” of unemployment insurance, and its expansion of food assistance programs, including those aimed at children whose access to affordable meals at their schools will be cut off by school closures.

The text of the bill has not been released yet, and it’s not clear when exactly on Friday the House will vote.

Pelosi made the remarks just an hour before the President is scheduled to hold a press conference, where he is expected to announce an emergency declaration that state officials, medical providers and public health experts have long been calling for.

Pelosi did not answer a reporter’s question about whether the White House supported the bill, but throughout the day, her office has been announcing phone calls between the Speaker and Mnuchin. On Friday morning, Mnuchin said he and Pelosi were “very close” to a deal and he claimed he had keep other top Trump officials and Republican legislative leaders in the loop at every step of the negotiation.

Trump is still pushing for a pay roll tax holiday to be included in Friday’s measure, Politico reported, even as Hill leadership from both parties have urged him to let them take that up at a later point.

A pay roll tax cut would be costly and ineffective tool for mitigating COVID-19’s economic fallout at this time, economists told TPM.

House Republicans held a conference call after Pelosi’s remark, NBC News reported, and so far are not supporting the measure, even if they favor some of the individual proposals in the package. The negotiations are continuing, NBC News said.

Update: This story was updated to reflect developments after Speaker Pelosi’s remarks.

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