House Speaker Nancy Pelosi successfully cleared her $3 trillion coronavirus-related recovery bill on Friday afternoon, the largest spending bill in congressional history.
The record-breaking bill passed 208 to 199 votes, with 14 Democrats opposing it and only one Republican — moderate Congressman Peter King — voting in its favor.
“I’m thrilled,” Pelosi said shortly after the final vote passed, Fox News reports. “I’m so proud of my members. They just did something so monumental for the American people — for their health, for their lives, for their livelihood, and for our democracy. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”
The “we” Pelosi was referring to was obviously Democrats, but even she could not get all Democrats in the chamber to support the tremendously large legislation.
Democratic Congressman Joe Cunningham, who opposed the bill, said Pelosi should have not pushed the bill through without any consideration or input from Republicans.
“At a time when our country is in real trouble, we should not be spending precious time on one-sided solutions that aren’t going anywhere,” he said.
Fox News reports Cunningham was joined by 13 other Democrats against the bill: Cindy Axne of Iowa, Sharice Davids of Kansas, Abby Finkenauer of Iowa, Jared Golden of Maine, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Ben McAdams of Utah, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico, and Susan Wild of Pennsylvania.
NEWS: House votes 208-199 to pass the Democrats’ $3 trillion coronavirus aid package that includes state and local relief, extended unemployment benefits, election overhauls and more.
Senate Republican leaders oppose it and the White House has threatened a veto.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) May 16, 2020
The report adds:
Dubbed the HEROES Act, the legislation includes $915 billion in state and local aid that could prevent layoffs of public workers, like first responders and teachers; a new $200 billion “heroes” fund for hazard pay for essential workers; $100 billion for K-12 and higher education and $75 billion for coronavirus testing.
The legislation aims to get more money into the pockets of Americans hard-hit by widespread business closures. Eligible individuals would receive $1,200 checks for each person in their household, up to $6,000.
The bill extends add-on unemployment benefits of $600 in addition to state benefits through January 2021, creates a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act exchanges for the uninsured and provides $175 billion for families to pay their mortgages and rent. The legislation includes student loan forgiveness, an employee retention tax credit and increases maximum SNAP benefits by 15 percent.
NEWS: Pelosi pushes through sweeping $3 trillion bill to prop up the economy and respond to the coronavirus pandemic after major effort behind the scenes to lock down Democratic votes, ensuring the bill’s passage by a narrow margin, 208-199. 14 Dems broke ranks and one GOP ‘yes’
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 16, 2020
While Republican members support many of those policies, they opposed several others. Tucked deep into the bill were provisions that overhaul major U.S. systems.
Fox News reports the HEROES Act would also provide $1,200 checks to certain illegal immigrants, specifically benefit the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT) in blue states, provide a $25 billion bailout for the U.S. Postal Service, and adopt early voting and vote-by-mail provisions.
“So much of what’s in this bill simply has nothing at all to do with the current crisis,” Republican Congressman Tom Cole criticized. “It’s more like a liberal Christmas … wish list. It would make more sense … to just send it straight to Santa Claus than to send it to the United States Senate. It would have a better chance of becoming law that way.”
Here's @playbookplus's assessment of Pelosi's bill.
This is what House Democrats are spending their time and energy on: pic.twitter.com/8suxZKpCm2
— Mark Bednar (@MarkBednar) May 15, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump both oppose the bill so it has virtually no chance to advance any further in the legislative process.
And, Pelosi knew that before forcing the vote but did so any way.
“The coronavirus passage vote ends a hectic week for Pelosi and her leadership team as they worked feverishly — including on Friday — to corral Democratic support for the relief bill,” Politico reports. “Pelosi stood sentry at the entrance of the chamber for hours leading up to the vote, clutching a list of members and grabbing certain lawmakers as they entered.”
Politico also reports the bill was almost derailed by a Republican motion that would have likely pit Democratic members against themselves:
Just before the vote, Pelosi and her leadership team were forced into a last-minute whipping operation to prevent moderate Democrats from defecting on a GOP procedural vote, which would have jeopardized passage of the $3 trillion bill.
Republicans attempted to split the Democratic caucus by forcing a vote related to undocumented immigrants — a tough issue for those in Trump districts.
But the gambit didn’t work after a personal lobbying effort by Pelosi, who buttonholed more than a dozen centrist Democrats on the floor ahead of the vote. In the end, only 14 Democrats joined with Republicans and the GOP motion was defeated.
#BREAKING: The House passes a $3T coronavirus relief package in 288 to 199 vote, sending the bill to the Republican-led Senate where GOP leaders have called it “dead on arrival.”
— Jennifer Franco (@jennfranconews) May 16, 2020