It could be posturing. It could be hope to get a deal done that can be announced with checks in the mail before Election Day.
But lawmakers in Congress are hopeful the elements are coming together for another COVID-19 pandemic stimulus package that could send billions of dollars in aid to state and local governments.
The overall package as envisioned by House Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be worth $2.2 trillion, sending $500 billion to local and state governments. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has countered with a smaller proposal that would send $250 billion to states.
“Our goal all along has been to get the negotiators back to the table and restart the stimulus conversation,” said the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in a statement.
The group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers is co-led by Republican Rep. Tom Reed of the Southern Tier region.
“It’s apparent that the Problem Solvers Caucus’ comprehensive bipartisan framework did just that and has helped change the national conversation,” the group said. “We commend Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin for getting back into the room and taking steps in the right direction toward a deal.”
New York needs billions of dollars in aid to close a ballooning budget gap that was opened up by the economic crisis amid the pandemic. Governor Andrew Cuomo has warned a mix of tax increases, borrowing and spending cuts would be necessary if federal aid is not apporved.
The uncertainty has further scrambled life on the municipal level, with some local governments and school districts making plans for budget cuts that could result in deep layoffs.
Cuomo has remain optimistic this week even as the stimulus measure has stalled since June. But he has also argued New York isn’t “liable” for the response by the federal government to the virus.
“Who knows what they’re going to do, congressionally, right?” Cuomo said. “They’re all watching polls. They’re know what’s in their best interest.”