What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

Under pressure, lawmakers scramble to provide economic relief

Lawmakers on Wednesday continued to tangle over the details of a bipartisan economic relief bill during the pandemic, even as two-thirds of Americans say the federal government needs to do more to address economic hardships created by the coronavirus, according to the latest PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll. Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff with the latest.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We look now at how — this latest push by lawmakers to provide economic relief in the pandemic.

    Our Lisa Desjardins is here with the latest.

    So, hello, Lisa.

    Tell us, where do things stand? Has there been any new movement in the last 24 hours?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I have to say, Judy, these are complex negotiations to begin with. In the last day, they have become more confusing.

    Lawmakers seem to agree on the rough amount of aid that they can pass. They don't agree on where it should go. Let's look at where we stand right now. The White House yesterday made an offer that would have $600 in direct checks to most Americans, but the White House wouldn't have added any unemployment benefits for those without jobs.

    Democrats say they need more unemployment benefits and that states and local governments also need more than the White House was offering. Another problem, the Senate Republican Conference is divide over most of these issues, and it's difficult to figure out where a majority of that conference could agree.

    Now, on this question of direct payments, there has been increased momentum and discussion of adding direct payments to any deal. However, that is a costly prospect, as much as $300 billion. And it is that total cost that Senate Republicans have a problem with.

    So, while that seems to be a popular idea, there has not been a proposal that seems to have momentum that has worked it in to everyone's satisfaction.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Lisa, how much pressure from the public are these lawmakers feeling now?

    We have the results of a new "PBS NewsHour"/NPR/Marist poll about what Americans want Congress to do here.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    We cover so much divide. So many issues in America are 50/50. Not this one.

    In the "PBS NewsHour"/NPR/Marist poll, two-thirds of people responded that the federal government is not doing enough on coronavirus relief, and, even more, two-thirds said that the Congress — that Congress needs to compromise, not stand on principle, but compromise.

    Why do people feel this way? Well, more and more Americans are directly affected. Let's look at this graphic that shows how many people told us that they or someone in their household had lost a job or income, 40 percent.

    And when you look at how many people of color, non-whites, 49 percent. Almost half of all the people in color — of color in our survey said they have lost income, so very serious effects. And that's where the pressure is coming from.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Lisa, looking at that poll, there were also some interesting findings about where the public is with regard to a vaccine and what they — how they're feeling this pandemic.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes, let me go through these quickly. It's interesting.

    On the vaccine front, 61 percent of Americans in our survey told us that they would be vaccinated. That's a big jump report from the 49 percent that gave us that response in just September. And there is a partisan divide on this question. So, if you look at that partisan breakdown, Democrats, 75 percent of Democrats say they would be vaccinated.

    But it's not just a partisan divide. It's a gender divide. Republican men, 61 percent say they would be OK with being vaccinated, but 34 percent of Republican women only would say they're vaccinated, so something going on in gender there possibly.

    But one area that everyone seems to agree with, most people, two-thirds, Judy, say they now know someone who was sick or they themselves have been sick with the coronavirus.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So interesting and concerning, Lisa, as you say, about that political divide over the vaccine.

    All right, Lisa Desjardins reporting for us, thank you.

Listen to this Segment