16 May 2020 ( 13 views )

House passes Dems' $3 trillion coronavirus spending bill

House Democrats pushed through their $3 trillion coronavirus spending bill Friday night, despite pushback from liberals and moderates within their ranks as well from Republicans.

The massive package, which checked off a long wish list of Democratic Party priorities, passed on a 208-199 vote, with 14 Democrats voting against it.

If 17 Democrats broke rank, the bill would not have passed.

Rep. Peter King of New York was the lone Republican to vote for the measure.

The bill is considered dead on arrival in the Republican-run Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is focused on passing liability protections for small business owners and health care providers to deal with coronavirus lawsuits when they reopen.

President Trump also bucked the Democrats’ bill, saying it is too soon to pile on more spending before seeing the full impact of the nearly $3 trillion already spent on the coronavirus crisis.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the hefty price tag by saying that current low interest rates made it the perfect time to spend big.

“We think this is a major investment in the lives of the American people and in the budgets of our states. Setting aside how we got here, we must approach this tragedy with the deepest humanity,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said on the House floor.

House Democrats narrowly rejected a GOP-led motion to prevent illegal immigrants from getting coronavirus stimulus checks Friday.

The provision, known as an motion to recommit, failed on a 198-209 basis, and 13 Democrats joined Republicans to try and pass it.

“The chairman of the Fed has told us to think big. It’s never going to be cheaper, he said, because the cost of interest is so low. The cost of credit is so low,” she said. “I say not to act now is not only irresponsible in a humanitarian way — it is irresponsible because it’s only going to cost more. More in terms of lives, livelihoods, cost to the budget, cost to our democracy.”

House Democrats dubbed the $3 trillion-plus package the “HEROES Act,” which stands for the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act.”

It would provide more than $800 billion for state and local governments — a major priority for Democrats — that didn’t make it into previous rescue bills.

Additionally, the bill would expand access to voting by mail by saying states can’t impose additional requirements on otherwise eligible voters to cast an absentee ballot through the mail.

Another $175 billion would go to rent and mortgage subsidies and $25 billion would prop up the struggling U.S. Post Office.

The bill eliminates for two years a $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction, a prized benefit for generally higher-income residents in blue, high-tax states. The cap was imposed as part of the 2017 GOP tax cuts.

The massive package hit a wave of opposition from Republicans and a few moderate Democrats, for being an unserious attempt and more of a messaging bill.

Democrat defections came from the far-left and more right-leaning wings of the party. Progressives voiced frustration that the bill wouldn’t do enough for unemployment or health care, while moderates felt there are too many unrelated items that are known poison bills for the GOP.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy slammed Mrs. Pelosi for refusing to allow members more time to negotiate on the bill and pushing a partisan wish list with “ideas that were created long before COVID.”

“There wasn’t one committee hearing on $3 trillion,” said Mr. McCarthy, California Republican. “This will be the largest bill in the history of the United States that we have ever voted on. And not one hearing. Not even input from committees, or from people on the other side of the aisle or bicameral.”

Mrs. Pelosi this week said there was a double standard being applied to Democrats’ efforts. She noted that the initial versions of a previous $2.2 trillion spending bill known as the CARES Act and another emergency spending for small business loans were put out by the GOP.

Democrats objected to both of those early proposals and bipartisan packages were negotiated.

“It’s no leader when the leader in the House, a Democrat, writes a bill,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “So now we’re putting our offer on the table. We’re open to negotiations.”

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