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Pelosi unveils $3 trillion coronavirus aid package for Friday vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a more than $3 trillion coronavirus aid package Tuesday, providing nearly $1 trillion for states and cities, “hazard pay” for essential workers and a new round of cash payments to individuals.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled a more than $3 trillion coronavirus aid package Tuesday, providing nearly $1 trillion for states and cities, “hazard pay” for essential workers and a new round of cash payments to individuals.

The House is expected to vote on the package as soon as Friday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said there is no “urgency.” The Senate will wait until after Memorial Day to act.

“We must think big, for the people, now," Pelosi said from the speaker's office at the Capitol.

“Not acting is the most expensive course," she said.

The so-called Heroes Act is built around nearly $1 trillion for states, cities and tribal governments to avert layoffs, focused chiefly on $375 billion for smaller suburban and rural municipalities largely left out of earlier rounds of aid.

It will offer a fresh round of $1,200 direct cash aid to individuals, increased to up to $6,000 per household, and launches a $175 billion housing assistance fund to help pay rents and mortgages. There is $75 billion more for virus testing.

It would continue, through January, the $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits. It adds a 15% increase for food stamps, new subsidies for laid-off workers to pay health insurance premiums under a COBRA law and a special “Obamacare” sign-up period. For businesses, it provides an employee retention tax credit.

There’s $200 billion in “hazard pay” for essential workers on the front lines of the crisis.

Pelosi drew on U.S. history — and poetry — to suggest “no man is an island” as she called on Americans to respond to the crisis with a strategy of science, virus testing and empathy.

“There are those who said, ‘Let’s just pause,’” she said. “Hunger doesn’t take a pause. Rent doesn’t take a pause. Bills don’t take a pause."

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the bill “will be ready” to call lawmakers back to Washington for the vote.

But the 1,800-page package is heading straight into a Senate roadblock.

Republicans are wary of another round of aid and McConnell declared the Democratic proposal a grab bag of “pet priorities.” He said Tuesday it is not something that “deals with reality.”

House Republicans also took a pass. "I can’t believe that that would be real,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., leader of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, said in an interview.

Senate Republicans are not planning to vote on any new relief until June.

President Donald Trump has already signed into law nearly $3 trillion in aid approved by Congress.

The new package extends some provisions from previous aid packages, and adds new ones.

There are other new resources, including $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service. There is help for the 2020 Census and the November election. The bill also provides $3.6 billion to help local officials prepare for the challenges of holding elections during the pandemic.

The popular Payroll Protection Program, which has been boosted in past bills, would see another $10 billion to ensure under-served businesses and nonprofit organizations have access to grants through a disaster loan program.

For hospitals and other health care providers, there’s another $100 billion infusion to help cover costs and additional help for hospitals serving low-income communities.

There’s another $600 million in funding to tackle the issue of rapid spread of the virus in state and federal prisons, along with $600 million in help to local police departments for salaries and equipment

As states weigh the health risks of re-opening, McConnell said the nation needs to “regroup and find a more sustainable middle ground between total lockdown and total normalcy.”

The Republican leader on Tuesday called the emerging Democratic bill a “big laundry list of pet priorities.”