July 22, 2020

ICYMI: New Dem Leadership Members Outline NDC's Priorities for the Next COVID Package

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) has been working hard to advance the needs of our constituents. The NDC successfully secured several key provisions in the last two major coronavirus response packages – The CARES Act & The Heroes Act – and also helped secure needed flexibility for the Payroll Protection Program. The NDC has pushed for more certainty and predictability in the COVID relief packages so they match the scale of the crisis we are facing. 

Regrettably, despite the House taking action over two months ago, Senate Republicans and the Trump Administration have stalled action, jeopardizing our public health response and economic recovery. As negotiations commence, the NDC is advocating for policy solutions to tackle the public health crisis and help our impacted workers, businesses, and state and local governments. The NDC will continue pushing to provide assistance to meet immediate needs and continue through the duration of the crisis and recovery; make the federal investment in a coordinated national recovery strategy with adequate testing, contact tracing, surveillance, and other mitigation strategies; and plan for subsequent waves of infections by implementing measures that provide support based on the lessons we have learned from the first wave.

Earlier this week, NDC Leadership Members spoke with reporters to discuss the Coalition’s recent work and its priorities moving forward. Read more in McClatchy DCUSA TodayWall Street Journal, and NBC News below: 



Moderate Democrats are prepared to unveil a plan later this week that would maintain the $600 payment as long as the presidential emergency is in effect. President Donald Trump declared an emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 13.

Once the emergency ends, the payments would drop to $450 for 13 weeks. Following that, it would drop to $200 or $300, depending on the unemployment rate in a state.

The plan has the backing of moderate House Democrats. To simply end the payment, as is now scheduled, “creates uncertainty in what’s already an uncertain time,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat who chairs the centrist New Democrat Coalition. Kilmer is a co-author, along with Rep. Don Beyer, D-Virginia., of the plan.

“The uncertainty itself is a drag on the economy,” said Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego


For this round, House Democrats passed a $3 trillion bill in May that includes an extension of the $600 increase in unemployment benefits, a second $1,200 stimulus check for individuals and families, about $1 trillion for state and local governments, additional worker protections and more money for testing and contact tracing. 

Senate Republicans have rejected the House bill. Among their priorities: more money for schools so they can reopen in the fall and liability protections for businesses worried about being sued by customers who contract COVID-19 in their reopened restaurants and shops.

The GOP bill is expected to have a much lower price tag and exclude items that Democrats have insisted on, meaning negotiations could be contentions and protracted. 

The Senate GOP measure may also face opposition from the White House, which is reportedly opposed to increased funding for testing, contact tracing and the two health agencies at the forefront of the pandemic response: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. Republicans planned on including more money for those initiatives and agencies in their bill, but the White House has objected, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post.  

Democrats took issue with axing such money from the next bill, Rep. Derek Kilmer, chair of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, said the move would be a nonstarter. 

"This is the red line," he said Monday on a call with reporters. "We are only asking that the resources be made made available across the country for the same testing and mitigation approach that's being deployed at the White House to keep the president safe. We want to keep our constituents safe."



Another key issue is what to do about the $600 in weekly aid the federal government has added to state unemployment benefits, which end this month. Mr. McCarthy suggested that Republicans might support some form of continued unemployment benefits, but at a level lower than the $600 in weekly aid set to expire at month’s end.

In normal times, the benefits would be slightly lower to incentivize people to “pound the pavement,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer (D., Wash.), chairman of the New Democrat Coalition. But during a pandemic, lawmakers want them “to be staying home and staying healthy” until it is safe for them to venture out.


The leaders of a group of fiscally conscious House Democrats say the coronavirus crisis has sidelined concerns about the national debt, potentially opening up room for Joe Biden to enact broad programs next year if elected president.

"This is an emergency. And getting bogged down in trying to identify offsets is not appropriate in an emergency," Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., the chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, told reporters on a conference call Monday. 

Centrist Democrats have exercised more leverage when their own party controls the White House and previously used their clout to reduce budget deficits. But with an ongoing health and economic crisis, Biden could move quickly to enact expensive proposals while the moderates in his party remain open to increasing the national debt.

Kilmer said the coalition is determined to solve problems "in a fiscally responsible way," but that fiscal hawks agree on the need for new spending to address the "largest public health crisis over the course of modern history" and "the largest economic disruption since the Great Depression."

Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., the group's vice chair for member services, concurred: "Now is not the time to turn off the faucet." 

"We should be using our strong balance sheet to borrow to stimulate the economy. And that may involve more programs like climate and transportation going into the Biden administration," Peters said.