Pelosi Describes Bill #4: Family Leave, More Direct Payments, Infrastructure, OSHA Rules

Susan Jones | March 31, 2020 | 6:10am EDT
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Even before the full $2.2 trillion in bipartisan relief funding is out the door, House Democrats are writing the next bill -- a fourth bill -- that focuses on "recovery," or "where we go from here," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a conference call on Monday.

"We're not coming back for a few weeks--but I do think that we can be working on our committee work in the meantime," Pelosi said. "I do think that it is really important that as soon as we are here, we are ready to pass legislation."

And what would be in this next bill?

Pelosi mentioned "more direct payments," even "larger" than the $1,200 already on the way to Americans impacted by government directives to shut down the U.S. economy. She also mentioned the "endless" need for more personal protective equipment.

She wants Congress to pass an "emergency" OSHA standard protecting frontline workers from airborne infectious diseases. The OSHA regulation would require employers to implement protective measures for at-risk workers, including TSA workers, direct-care workers, first responders, pharmacists, grocery store workers and other employees at "essential" places that remain open during health emergencies.

Pelosi also mentioned "infrastructure needs." "Many more people are either teleworking or tele-education or really communicating with family and friends from home," Pelosi said, calling for "broadband" and "grid" improvements.

"In addition to that, we would have issues that relate to water," Pelosi said. "The safety of our water system, some of them are over 100 years old, made of wood and brick and not really healthy for children or other living things. So, we would like to see what comes next -- something that has always been nonpartisan, bipartisan, and that is an infrastructure piece that takes us into the future."

Later, Pelosi mentioned "clean air," "clean water, and "more efficient fuel standards," all of which she described as "a public health issue."

"In addition to that, it's an economic issue. It's a job issue," Pelosi said. "It creates jobs immediately to build the infrastructure and jobs as it promotes commerce, moves product to market, produce to market in a timely way."

(Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who was also on the conference call, amplified on the "infrastructure" needs, saying poor people need help with broadband and safe drinking water. "So, it is infrastructure for people that don't have these things and to upgrade the infrastructure to be able to link up. It is also the ability to be able to pay for it and then not be shut off." Pallone said Democrats want to help people in underserved areas pay their Internet and water bills.)

"Anything else you would like to see in that bill?" a reporter asked Speaker Pelosi:

"Well, there are a few items," Pelosi said.

"Here's some of the provisions that we'd like to see in the next bill. We'd like to see more opportunity for family and medical leave.

"For example, if you had a parent who was in need of care right now, had a healthcare--health provider come to the house each day or went to a...senior health center each day and that center or that person were shut down because of the coronavirus...a person could take family medical leave to care for that person."

Democrats want to increase the number of employers that must provide family and medical leave. And while free testing for coronavirus is already required, Democrats are now pushing free treatment for people admitted to hospitals with the virus.

Pelosi also said Democrats want to make sure the District of Columbia is treated as a state, not as a territory, in the next bill:

“We are very concerned about what happened to the District of Columbia in this bill they for some reason for the first time that anybody can remember, they treated D.C. like a territory. It has always been treated like a state. And in the course of that, they lost several hundred million dollars in funding because of the way it was treated. We--we did a good job for our territories. But the District of Columbia is not one of them.”

Pelosi wants "significantly more" money for state and local governments in the next bill. Those governments "are being drained of resources to address the coronavirus," she said.

Pelosi said the House will be "working together in a bipartisan way," even though Congress is in recess and "we don't know how many weeks we will be out."


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