Schumer, Pelosi want Heroes Act as ‘starting point’ in new COVID-19 relief talks

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday morning said the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or Heroes, Act passed by House Democrats in May should be the “starting point” for negotiations with Senate Republicans and the White House on a new round of coronavirus relief legislation.

Even though Democrats lost seats in the House and face long odds of retaking the Senate majority, Schumer and Pelosi said President-elect Joe Biden’s victory is what counts.

Republicans counter that they themselves have a mandate after Democrats lost seats in the House and underperformed expectations of picking up Senate seats.

Which version of the bill? The House passed two versions of the legislation this year, a $3.4 trillion bill in May and a $2.2 trillion measure in October.

Hours after the press conference, an aide to Schumer said the Senate leader was referring to the $2.2 trillion bill version. A spokesperson for Pelosi confirmed the distinction.

Why that’s unlikely: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday morning said a COVID-19 relief package in the ballpark of $500 billion would be more appropriate.

“My view is the level at which the economy is improving further underscores that we need to do something about the amount that we put on the floor in September and October — highly targeted at what the residual problems are,” the GOP leader told reporters.