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Capitol Report: Pelosi sees ‘Phase 4’ coronavirus package including additional payments to Americans, infrastructure spending

As Washington considers other steps for responding to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic damage, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday said a “Phase 4” package could include “more direct payments” to Americans and spending on infrastructure.

The California Democrat also said she would like to see the next bill feature more money for state and local governments, increased protections for workers, more assistance for hospitals and nursing homes and “more opportunity for family and medical leave.”

“The president said during the campaign and since, infrastructure was a priority for him. So that’s why we believe that in terms of recovery, that’s probably the most bipartisan path that we can take,” Pelosi said on Monday in a conference call with reporters.

On the other hand, analysts at Beacon Policy Advisors warned on Monday that while infrastructure is “naturally a policy area of interest” for President Donald Trump, there are “no clear infrastructure proponents as of now” who have his ear on this topic.

“Still, infrastructure will be an important policy area to watch over the next few months,” Beacon’s analysts said in a note. “With low borrowing rates and a greater tolerance for deficit spending, some sort of infrastructure legislation could be enticing to include in the continuing response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, for his part, has questioned whether a fourth response bill is necessary.

“I’m not sure we need a fourth package,” the California Republican told Fox News on Sunday. “Before we go to start drafting a fourth package, I’d like these three packages we just put out — remember, it’s more than $2 trillion, the largest we’ve ever seen — to take care and get this economy moving.”

A year ago, Trump and top Democratic lawmakers reached a deal on a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, but the agreement unraveled within weeks. Earlier this year, House Democrats put forth a $760 million infrastructure proposal.

“In terms of working with the GOP, I think the coronavirus pandemic has really kind of bared a lot of the inadequacies, if you will, with the nation’s infrastructure,” said Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone, who chairs the House Energy & Commerce Committee, on Monday. “For example, if you just use the health-care system, we’re now reopening hospitals that were closed.”

A fourth coronavirus bill is likely to involve at least in part “technical corrections” to the $2 trillion stimulus bill that Trump signed into law on Friday. Last week’s legislation is considered Washington’s “Phase 3” response to the coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19. It follows a mid-March bill targeting paid leave and testing, as well as an initial $8.3 billion emergency spending plan that came together in early March.

U.S. stocks DJIA, +3.19%SPX, +3.35% have been hammered this month by coronavirus-related worries, though last week brought gains that analysts pinned on stimulus hopes. The main equity benchmarks also closed higher Monday.