Pelosi says Democrats are thinking 'big' for next round of coronavirus aid, despite debt concerns from GOP

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday confirmed the broad strokes of the next round of coronavirus legislation that Democrats are hoping to pass this month with priorities being money to state and local governments, more coronavirus testing and delivering money to the pockets of Americans.

Pelosi also backed help for the United States Postal Service, direct payments for Americans, unemployment benefits and money for food stamps, referred to as the SNAP program.

"In addition to putting money in people's pockets – direct payments. unemployment insurance, some other tax credits, etc. – we really also need to put food on the table. ... We have to have SNAP," Pelosi told reporters Thursday at the Capitol.

Fox News reported Wednesday that Democrats are eyeing a massive bill that could rival the $2.2 trillion initial CARES Act or top it in terms of cost.

Pelosi didn't outline the pricetag but signaled Democrats are taking the advice of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who has recommended Congress to "think big" since money can be borrowed at nearly zero interest rates.

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"Chairman Powell has said it again and again ... 'Think big. Think Big. The interest rates are very, very low. Think big. And that's what we're doing," Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also said the fifth round of coronavirus legislation that he and Pelosi support will be "Franklin Rooseveltian” in its size and scope.

“We need big, bold action," Schumer told MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle on Thursday.

Pelosi signaled Congress could come back "probably next week” and responded "We'll see" when asked if Democrats would pass the legislation without the White House and GOP buy-in — as was the case in the previous four rounds of coronavirus legislation.

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Pelosi and Powell spoke March 17 over the phone. A Democratic aide said at the time that Pelosi was encouraged by the chairman's perspective that, with interest rates at nearly zero, Congress is enabled to "fiscally think big" to craft a "robust response."

The U.S. had to borrow nearly $3 trillion for the latest bipartisan coronavirus spending packages and Pelosi scoffed Thursday at concerns now being raised by the GOP about debt and deficits.

She said Republicans had "no hesitation whatsoever" to pass tax breaks for the wealthiest of Americans and racking up "almost $2 trillion in debt" with the Trump tax cuts. She said the debt shouldn't be a hindrance to passing SNAP food assistance to people in crisis now.

"We just did $2 trillion to the wealthiest people in our country," Pelosi said. "But we can't feed one in four children in our country because of the national debt."

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The centerpiece of the next round of legislation is expected to be funding for state and local governments. Their tax revenues have dried up during the pandemic and governors and mayors have warned they'll have to cut essential services and public workers, like police and firefighters, if the federal government doesn't help with their coronavirus expenses.

Pelosi framed the legislation as funding for "heroes" and said it's not enough to praise health care workers and first responders or fly Blue Angels in the sky for them, in a swipe at Trump's air effort to show support.

"The Blue Angels flying over and all that -- that's a beautiful thing," Pelosi said. "But those of us with a responsibility for this have no right to praise them, and then ignore their needs."