US Democrats outline 'phase 4' of virus response

House Speaker Pelosi wants to move forward with an infrastructure bill when Congress returns to work after April 20.

    US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds up a crystal gavel as she addresses a Friends of Ireland luncheon on Capitol Hill [File: Tom Brenner/Reuters]
    US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds up a crystal gavel as she addresses a Friends of Ireland luncheon on Capitol Hill [File: Tom Brenner/Reuters]

    US House leader wants to move forward with an infrastructure bill when Congress returns to work after April 20.

    Top Democrats in the United States House of Representatives said on Wednesday that they intend to advance an enhanced $760bn infrastructure plan aimed at responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

    More:

    The proposed legislation, outlined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and two key committee chairmen, would include new money for health centres, clean water, broadband access and public transportation.

    Pelosi reportedly told reporters in a conference call that House Democrats hope to take legislative action on the next government relief bill when the Congress returns from its recess April 20.

    Infrastructure is an area where Democrats believe they can work with President Donald Trump as they search for ways to address the health crisis and economic fallout from the coronavirus.

    "Interest in infrastructure has always been bipartisan," Pelosi said.

    The Democrats' plan is based on a five-year, $760bn framework unveiled in January.

    Congress has passed three bills in response to the outbreak, including a two-trillion-dollar economic rescue package signed into law last week.

    Trump tweeted on Tuesday the infrastructure bill should include another two trillion dollars in spending, saying he wants to focus on creating jobs as the country recovers.

    Pelosi reportedly said she is "pleased the president has returned to his interest" in infrastructure. She called the infrastructure proposal "essential because of the historic nature of the health and economic emergency that we are confronting".

    Earlier on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a television interview that he is talking with congressional leaders about a potential infrastructure bill that would help boost the battered US economy.

    "As you know, the president has been very interested in infrastructure. This goes back to the campaign: The president very much wants to rebuild the country," Mnuchin told CNBC.

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday he wants to take a wait-and-see approach to the next spending measure and warned against Democratic wish lists.

    "Let's see how things are going, and respond accordingly," McConnell said. 

    "I'm not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items that they would not otherwise be able to pass," he said.

    Congress is bypassing budget disciplines to authorise the new emergency spending using deficit financing.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News