The House of Representatives narrowly passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill Friday night, despite opposition from Republicans and several Democrats.
Unlike the four previous “phases” of relief for COVID-19 that Congress quickly passed with bipartisan support in March, the legislation drew an immediate veto threat from the White House when House Democrats introduced it Tuesday.
Republicans have dismissed the bill, dubbed the HEROES Act, as having no chance to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the Democrats’ priorities Thursday a “parade of absurdities.”
In an interview Friday morning on Fox News, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., echoed McConnell’s criticism and dismissed the bill as “a wish list” for Democrats.
“It’s unfortunate, because this is a time when we should be pulling together as Republicans and Democrats for the best of our country,” she said, calling the legislation “dead on arrival.”
The sprawling bill would send $1 trillion in aid to state, local and tribal governments and set aside $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers, $175 billion in housing assistance for renters and homeowners, and $75 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing.
It would also fund a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks to individual Americans, including children, up to a maximum of $6,000 per household.
In a statement on Thursday, Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, highlighted the unprecedented cost of the legislation.
“To put this in perspective,” he said, “the price tag of this bill is nearly double that of the recently passed CARES Act, which was the most expensive piece of legislation ever enacted.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., issued a statement on Wednesday supporting the House bill.
“This is a crisis unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” Murray said in the statement. “That’s why ideas at least as big and bold as those in the HEROES Act are not only appropriate, but essential.”
At a press conference Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., described the bill as House Democrats’ opening bid, saying, “We’re putting our offer on the table. We’re open to negotiation.”
Seattle-area Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the left-wing Congressional Progressive Caucus, voted against the HEROES Act.
The Democrat said it falls short of what is needed to combat an extraordinary crisis.
“At the core, our response from Congress must match the true scale of this devastating crisis,” Jayapal said. “The HEROES Act – while it contains many important provisions – simply fails to do that.”
Speaking on Fox News on Friday morning, McMorris Rodgers suggested Republicans would not rush to pass another stimulus bill.
“The state of Washington got $2.9 billion. Gov. Inslee has yet to determine how that money is going to be disbursed,” she said.
“It seems to me we need to spend the money that’s already been authorized.”
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