The House passed a $3 trillion Democratic economic stimulus bill on Friday that was largely rejected by Republicans and President Donald Trump. Passed 208-199, the bill would provide insolvent states and local governments with more than $1 trillion, and most Americans with another $1,200 check.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi evoked Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who has stated that Congress will have to inject more fiscal stimulus into the economy to prevent a prolonged recession. The U.S. has over 1.4 million coronavirus cases, with more than 86,000 having died, according to official numbers. Republicans have called the House Democrats’ bill a “liberal wish list.”
GOP members cite certain provisions, such as reductions in immigration enforcement, providing stimulus checks to undocumented immigrants, money for the U.S. Postal Service, and a national requirement to hold elections by mail as reasons to vote nay. “This is much more about political messaging than effective legislating,” Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said.
Trump and Republican congressional leaders acknowledge that further economic stimulus will likely be needed with 36 million out of work. The Senate plans to ignore the House proposal next week, focusing instead on confirming Trump administration nominees. The chamber might consider legislation to give business protection from virus-related lawsuits, which could be presented along with economic aid.
Certain Democrats in swing districts voted against the bill. “I could not in good conscience vote to accept this Washington gamesmanship, or vote to approve unrelated wastes of taxpayer dollars, while Iowa sees its Covid-19 case rates climbing and parts of my district become a national hot spot,” said Iowa freshman Democrat Cindy Axne.
Oklahoma’s Kendra Horn said she opposed the inclusion of provisions such as those on immigration, $3 trillion in additional spending sans committee hearings and being given an 1,800 page bill just three days before a vote.
“I know there are many of us who are concerned about the size of this package and the scope that goes beyond direct response,” Horn said. “We need to have a transparent process that allows for bipartisan agreement.” Horn suggested Congress work out a bill focused on state and local aid, fixing small business loans, and defeating the virus.
Progressives pushed recurring stimulus payments to Americans link to future unemployment, including the tax code’s cap on state and local deductions for individuals, including expanded employee-retention tax credits.
For instance, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairwoman Pramila Jayapal opposed the bill due its lack of funds to guarantee paychecks, while proposing direct federal payments to employers to rehire furloughed workers.
“At the core, our response from Congress must match the true scale of this devastating crisis. The Heroes Act — while it contains many important provisions — simply fails to do that,” Jayapal said in a statement.
The Democratic proposal, which they named “The Heroes Act”, delivers nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments, another round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals and help for the unemployed, renters, and homeowners, college debt holders, and the Postal Service. Meanwhile, Republicans seem to be pushing for reopening. “Phase Four is going to happen,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, using Washington insider-speak for the measure. “But, it’s going to happen in a much better way for the American people.”
Some contend that generous unemployment benefits discourage people from returning to work, and attacked language helping immigrants in the U.S. illegally get federal benefits. They also singled out provisions helping states set up voting by mail and easing the marijuana industry’s access to banks.