The House Friday evening narrowly passed the massive Democrats’ $3 trillion relief package that would provide billions in bailout to cash-strapped states and local governments, expand direct payment eligibility to undocumented immigrants as well as a list of other Democratic priorities.
The vote was 208-199, largely down party lines. 14 Democrats, a mix of progressive and centrist defected from party leaders and voted in opposition. One Republican — Rep. Peter King of New York broke away from the GOP opposition and voted yes.
The 1,815-page Democratic legislation was crafted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) along with top Democratic committee chairs without any input from Republicans or the Trump administration. The centerpiece of the ‘Phase 4’ stimulus relief bill focuses on providing over $1 trillion relief for struggling states and local governments to help plug budget holes from coronavirus crisis spending and declining tax revenues.
Dubbed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act, the measure includes $200 billion to fund hazard pay for essential workers on the front lines, extend federal unemployment benefits of $600 per week through January 2021, and provide extra funding of $75 billion directed for coronavirus testing and contact tracing.
The bill would also build upon the one-time direct payments established by the CARES Act by pushing a second round of similar direct payments of $1,200 per individual and $1,200 for dependent children and up to $6,000 per household.
Democrats also included a slew of liberal priorities left out from previous bills, including $75 billion to help homeowners and renters struggling to pay their mortgages or rent due to lost income, including $100 billion in emergency assistance for low-income renters at risk of eviction, a 15 percent increase to the maximum food stamp benefit, as well as $150 million to help local food banks meet increased demand, $25 billion to aid the U.S. Postal Service and $3.6 billion for a contingency plan to help enable voting by mail for the upcoming November elections.
The measure is not expected to be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate, Pelosi signaled earlier that she is open to negotiating.
“We’re putting our offer on the table, we’re open to negotiation,” Pelosi said. “It is important to note that more than 80 percent of the priorities in the Heroes Act have been supported by the Republicans in the four previous COVID-19 acts of Congress.”
“Do you think this virus is taking a pause? Do you think that the rent takes a pause? Do you think that putting food on the table or the hunger that comes if you can’t take a pause?“ the California Democrat argued on the House floor. “The hardship of losing a job doesn’t take a pause or tragically losing a loved one. It doesn’t take a pause.”
President Trump on Wednesday weighed in on the Democratic-led effort Thursday, calling the legislation “Dead on arrival.”
“DOA. Dead on arrival. Of course, Nancy Pelosi knows that,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Earlier, the House also approved a historic rules changes to allow lawmakers to cast votes and conduct committee meetings remotely for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. The vote was voted along party lines, 217-189 with three Democrats and one Independent joining the Republicans in voting no.
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