National Post (Latest Edition)

Democrats vow new effort on aid

- Erica Werner

• Ho u s e Democrats vowed Monday to renew efforts on economic assistance — including state and local aid and potentiall­y US$ 2,000 cheques to individual­s — in the 117th Congress that is now getting underway.

House Democratic caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries said that the US$ 2,000 cheques amount to “unfinished business that should be continued as part of our effort to provide additional relief to the American people.”

The House last week passed legislatio­n providing for US$2,000 relief cheques, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell rejected the measure even though President Donald Trump was demanding it. Congress earlier approved a US$ 900 billion coronaviru­s relief bill that included US$ 600 cheques, legislatio­n that Trump ultimately signed even while criticizin­g the size of the cheques as “measly.”

Democrats anticipate writing a new relief bill once president- elect Joe Biden is sworn in Jan. 20. Its contours are uncertain, however, and the path forward will depend on the outcome of two Senate runoffs in Georgia on Tuesday that will determine which party controls the Senate.

“Our top priority as Democrats will continue to be to crush the virus, provide direct relief to every day Americans who are struggling, and to supercharg­e our economy,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries and other House Democratic leaders addressed reporters at the Capitol on Monday, the second day of the 117th Congress.

Aid to state and local government­s, which was left out of the most recent relief bill, remains a top priority for Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that “we owe them more.”

“Our most urgent priority will be continuing to defeat the coronaviru­s, and defeat it we will” Pelosi said following her reelection as speaker.

Democratic caucus vicechair Rep. Pete Aguilar said Democrats intend to “make sure that critical priorities we left behind, like state and local government­s, are addressed in the future.”

Ho w e v e r, Ho u s e Democrats often struggle to find unity even among themselves, a dynamic that could be exacerbate­d this year, as they govern with the smallest House majority of either party in 20 years. They begin the session with a 222to-211 advantage.

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