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House Democrats: Next coronavirus stimulus should pay utility bills, ‘upgrade’ infrastructure

Congressional Democrats have tried for years to pass spending bill to overhaul U.S. infrastructure, including broadband

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Speaker Pelosi on March 23.
Speaker Pelosi on March 23.
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Updated: March 30, 2020 - 5:49pm

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the next coronavirus stimulus package should include infrastructure upgrades and payments for Americans' utility bills.

Congress last week passed a roughly $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that President Trump on Friday signed into law.

“There are infrastructure needs that our country has that directly relate to how we are proceeding with the coronavirus. Many more people are either teleworking or tele-educating or really communicating with family and friends from home,” Pelosi said on a conference call with reporters and fellow House Democrats.

“Clean water, infrastructure, broadband and the rest is really essential to preparing our country for what we’re engaged in now, further and what comes next,” she also said.

Rep. Frank Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he wants Congress to help pay people’s utility bills in a fourth package and “upgrade” infrastructure across the country, instead of focusing only on direct cash payments.

The New Jersey Democrat argued that the country's Internet services must be upgraded considering more people are using the Internet for online learning at home.

"They need to be hooked up, otherwise they're not going to be able to do online courses,” Pallone said on the call. “The third thing is to pay this, not only to shut off these things. If you haven’t paid your bill for the Internet or for your water or your utilities but to help pay for it.” 

Pelosi said the next package would likely include direct payments higher than the ones included in the Senate bill but did not specify the exact amount.

Congress has already passed three coronavirus stimulus packages and signaled even before Trump signed the most recent measure that another was in the works. 

Pelosi urged lawmakers to be “ready to pass legislation” as soon as they return to Capitol Hill in a few weeks, after Easter and Passover.