BREAKING: House passes $3T coronavirus relief despite 14 Democrats voting “no”

Moments ago, by a narrow 208-199 vote, Democrats passed a $3 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) tweeted:

BREAKING: The House just passed the #HeroesAct to fund:

Cash payments to families
Hazard pay for essential workers

Money for testing & tracing
Stronger unemployment benefits
Expanded food assistance
Rent & mortgage relief

The Senate must pass this bill immediately.

Houst Speaker Nancy Pelosi shared the tweet.

Fox News reports the House of Representatives on Friday evening passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, the most expensive legislation approved in history, that Democrats hailed as the unprecedented response needed to deal with the unprecedented pandemic and economic fallout.

The record-breaking bill narrowly passed by a 208-199 vote. Fourteen Democrats defied their party and voted “no,” while one Republican, Rep. Pete King of New York, broke with the GOP and voted “yes.”

“If you don’t understand the suffering, you haven’t been paying attention,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

“The time for action is now. The American people have unprecedented needs and the federal government must step up to the plate [and] provide the necessary assistance to meet those needs,” she said.

Unlike the first four coronavirus bills that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, this 1,815-page package was drafted by Democrats alone and earned a veto threat from the White House and condemnation from the GOP as a “liberal wish list” that’s dead on arrival in the Senate.

Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi couldn’t get all her members on board. The most liberal members of the party panned the legislation as not going big enough, while moderate members in swing districts said they couldn’t support vote a bill that was too partisan and costly.

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“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,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C.

But most Democrats, some making emotional pleas on the House floor, said Americans need this lifeline — now. They spoke of the more than 85,000 deaths from COVID-19, winding food bank lines in their districts, more than 36 million losing their jobs, and families struggling to make rent as evidence of the need for a historic response.

“Many say this bill is dead on arrival,” Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., told members on the House floor. “If we do not move this bill, the deaths will be in our districts.”

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 payments, 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, which are currently $768 a month, by 15 percent.

But tucked into the legislation are provisions that rankled the Republicans including expanding $1,200 checks to certain undocumented immigrants, restoring the full State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT) that helps individuals in high-taxed blue states, a $25 billion rescue for the U.S. Postal Service, allowing legal marijuana businesses to access banking services and 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,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. “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.”

Acknowledging this bill won’t get passed in the GOP-led Senate, Democrats framed the HEROS Act as their opening offer for negotiations. Democrat leadership said bipartisan legislation wasn’t an option because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to put the brakes on any new relief bill and suggested that states go bankrupt.

Read more here.