As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemingly shifts her focus to funding the U.S. Postal Service, a growing number of Democrats are urging Pelosi to pass a stimulus bill that includes a second round of direct payments and enhanced unemployment benefits. Although unemployment benefits have been renewed at $300 per week under President Donald Trump’s executive order, some feel that is simply not enough. Stimulus payments, meanwhile, have remained in limbo ever since negotiations collapsed. With the House of Representatives set to reconvene early to “save the postal service,” a number of Pelosi's colleagues are calling on her to take this opportunity to provide much needs relief to the American people.
In a letter addressed to Pelosi on Aug. 19, Rep. Cindy Axne of Iowa called on Pelosi "to bring up a simplified, straightforward COVID-19 relief package." Axne stated that her "constituents and millions of others are relying on us to reach a deal that can deliver much-needed aid to those still under threat from COVID-19" and implored Pelosi to "show that the House is still committed to reaching a deal… by passing a relief bill." Axne calls for this bill to include, among other things, funding for schools, an extension of unemployment benefits through at least the end of the year, an eviction moratorium, and an additional round of stimulus checks. The letter also insists "that the next package does not include special favors and handouts."
Axne's letter is just one of several to be issued in recent days, and follows on the heels of a letter from members of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition. That letter called on Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy to resume stimulus negotiations this weekend. The letter says that this next relief bill should include enhanced unemployment benefits and a stimulus check, among other things.
Also this week, Congressmen Scott Peters, Donald Beyer Jr., and Derek Kilmer led 114 House Democrats in a letter pushing for a standalone bill that would re-instate the recently-expired $600 enhanced unemployment benefit by taking a vote on Worker Relief and Security Act. That bill was introduced in May and seeks to provide $600 in weekly enhanced unemployment benefits for the remainder of the pandemic and then continue enhanced compensation "determined by national and state total unemployment rates."
The letters, however, seem to be doing little to sway Pelosi. In her own letter, the House Speaker commended the "excellent" ideas that have been put forth, though she said that "we must consider their timing and strategic value."