By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Democrats in the US House of Representatives announced Tuesday a sweeping $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes funds for state and local governments reeling from virus-related closures and additional direct payments to individuals.
Announcing the "Heroes Act" on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers are seeking to seize on low interest rates to "bolster the American people."
"We must act boldly to support state and local entities to address coronavirus-related outlays and lost revenue due to the coronavirus. We all know that we must put more money in the pockets of the American people. This is not only necessary for their survival, it is a stimulus to the economy," she said.
"We must think big for the people now because if we don't it will cost more in lives and livelihood later. Not acting is the most expensive course."
The House could vote on the package as soon as Friday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled he is in no rush to take up the legislation.
“We have not yet felt the urgency of acting immediately,” McConnell said Monday.
In addition to providing state, local and tribal with $1 trillion, the bill would send Americans an additional $1,200 in direct payments, create a $200 billion fund to ensure essential workers receive hazard pay and create a separate $175 billion fund to aid individuals needing help paying rent and mortgages.
It would also extend unemployment benefits as the US grapples with jobless rates not seen since the Great Depression.
Senate Minor Leader Chuck Schumer urged McConnell to take up the legislation immediately, saying he and Senate Republicans "ought to heed the lessons of history and not repeat the mistakes of President Hoover that helped lead to the Great Depression."
"Despite Senator McConnell's recent statement that he feels no urgency to act immediately, tens of millions of American families and workers struggling to put food on the table, afford rent, and provide for their children need help from the federal government and we must deliver fast," Schumer said in a statement.