Biden Backs Pelosi on Massive Stimulus Bill as Former Treasury Heads Call for More Aid

Biden Backs Pelosi on Massive Stimulus Bill as Former Treasury Heads Call for More Aid

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Joe Biden is backing House Democrats in their effort to negotiate a multi-trillion-dollar coronavirus relief bill, according to a Biden representative Monday. “The President-elect fully supports the Speaker and Leader in their negotiations," transition spokesperson Andrew Bates said.

The statement from the Biden team came in response to a report Sunday in The New York Times that Biden’s economic advisers – worried about both a double-dip recession driven by the recent surge in coronavirus infections and the difficulty House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) faces in reaching an agreement on a roughly $2 trillion relief bill with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – were pushing for a smaller package.

“Many of the president-elect’s advisers have become convinced that deteriorating economic conditions from the renewed surge in Covid-19 infections and the looming threat of millions of Americans losing jobless benefits in December amid a wave of evictions and foreclosures require more urgent action before year’s end,” the Times said. “That could mean moving at least part of the way toward Mr. McConnell’s offer of a $500 billion package.”

The Biden team’s pushback makes it clear that the incoming administration is sticking with its congressional allies, at least for now. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear more about accepting some kind of compromise deal in the coming weeks, especially if the economic data take a turn for the worse, as many Biden advisers fear.

Some Democrats are already talking about the need to pass any relief bill they can get, even if it’s smaller than the one House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is looking for. “I just hope that we can get agreement,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told CQ-Roll Call. “It may not be everything that everybody wants but at least if we can get some significant relief to people. And then we're going to be here next year. If we need to do other things, we'll do other things.”

Former Treasury secretaries call for more stimulus – now: Although they didn’t specify a dollar figure, a bipartisan group of former economic officials released a letter Monday calling on lawmakers to pass a new coronavirus stimulus package as soon as possible. Organized by the Aspen Institute's Economic Strategy Group, the letter’s signatories include former Treasury secretaries Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers; former Fed chair Ben Bernanke; and former White House economic advisers Jason Furman, Austan Goolsbee, N. Gregory Mankiw and Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

“Amidst a resurgence in COVID-19 caseloads and continuing economic devastation from the pandemic, we urge Congress to enact legislation that focuses on the core measures necessary to provide additional fiscal relief as quickly as possible and no later than the end of this calendar year,” the group said, adding that the “country and economy cannot wait until 2021.”

Fighting the pandemic is the single most important issue, the letter said, and lawmakers should also provide additional assistance for individuals and families, state and local governments, and small businesses.

“The CARES Act that was passed with bipartisan support in March 2020 provided necessary

relief to millions of Americans and helped the economy rebound more quickly than expected,” the groups said. “Our nation’s leaders should act on another round of fiscal relief now.”