Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some very HOT tea and it involves the House of Representatives.
U.S House of Representatives on Friday passed a $3 trillion tax cut and spending bill aimed at addressing the devastating economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak by directing huge sums of money into all corners of the economy. According to The Washington Post;
But the White House and Senate Republicans have decried the measure’s design and said they will cast it aside, leaving uncertain what steps policymakers might take as the economy continues to face severe strains.
The sweeping legislation, dubbed the “Heroes Act, passed 208-199. Fourteen Democrats defected and opposed the bill, reflecting concerns voiced both by moderates and liberals in the House Democratic caucus about the bill’s content and the leadership-driven process that brought it to the floor. The bill won support from just one Republican: Rep. Pete King of New York.
The 1,800-page legislation contains a large number of provisions: nearly $1 trillion for state, local and tribal governments; another round of direct payments to individuals, up to $6,000 per family, including to unauthorized immigrants; $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers; $75 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing; increased spending on food stamps; $175 billion in housing support; student loan forgiveness; and a new employee retention tax credit and extension of unemployment benefits.
It also includes measures less directly related to the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. It would require all voters to be able to vote by mail beginning this November and temporarily repeal a provision from the 2017 GOP tax law that limited a federal deduction for state and local taxes, something that would largely help higher-income areas. The legislation would provide $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, spending President Trump has vociferously opposed as he has pressured the agency to charge higher rates to Amazon and others.
Congress has passed four bipartisan coronavirus relief bills that have already cost around $3 trillion to try to blunt the economic fallout. While Republicans and Trump administration officials agree that more action will be necessary at some point, many say it’s time to pause and see how the programs already funded are working before devoting even more federal funds to the crisis as deficits balloon.
Friday’s floor debate proceeded in what has become the new normal for the House: The chamber was largely empty except for members who were speaking or presiding and some staff. Most lawmakers of both parties were wearing masks, although a handful of Republicans were not, and about two dozen lawmakers were absent. When it came time to vote, lawmakers cycled in and out of the chamber in small groups assembled alphabetically, so that a vote that would normally take 15 minutes to stretched to well over an hour. The chamber was repeatedly being cleaned and wiped down.
Pelosi navigated competing demands in her own caucus as she assembled Friday’s coronavirus bill. Lawmakers including members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus had pushed for a “Paycheck Guarantee” program that would offer more generous assistance to individuals than the new round of one-time payments included in the bill. Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) was among those opposing the legislation Friday, saying it “ultimately fails to match the scale of this crisis.”
Some moderate lawmakers, including freshmen who flipped GOP held seats and face challenges in November, expressed unease about forcing through what they viewed as a partisan messaging bill. And lawmakers in both camps complained about a process that presented them with a mammoth bill written largely at the leadership level and little time to review it.