House Approves $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill

The House approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Thursday night as Democrats worked to push Republicans for a bipartisan deal ahead of the election.

Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi are posing for a picture: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaks next to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., August 7, 2020.

© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaks next to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., August 7, 2020.

The Democrat-controlled House passed the measure without any GOP votes ahead of representatives’ last day in Washington on Friday, when many lawmakers will return home to campaign before the November 3 election.

About 20 Democrats voted against the bill, with some pressing Pelosi to compromise with Republicans on a smaller package than the Democrats have called for. 

Friday marks the sixth straight day that Nancy Pelosi and Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin have met to try to hammer out a deal after months of political gridlock between the two parties. Pelosi and other top Democrats think a deal can be reached on Friday and would keep lawmakers in Washington over the weekend if a deal is within reach.

“We’ll see where we go from there tonight, but I’ve spoken to him a number of times already,” Pelosi told reporters, according to Politico. “Even if we came to some agreement, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to — it’s the language.”

Lawmakers — and Americans — are frustrated after months of fruitless negotiation. Many lawmakers worry their constituents will hold the lack of progress against them for failing to provide help to tens of millions of Americans who remain jobless as many of the first round of relief measures have long since expired, including an extra unemployment boost and eviction protections. 

Two dozen moderate Democrats, many of whom come from battleground states, reached out to Pelosi on Thursday begging her to agree to the White House’s latest offer, which would provide roughly $1.6 trillion in health and economic aid, Politico reported.

Representative Cindy Axne (D., Iowa), one of the two dozen, argued that Thursday’s vote did nothing to push forward a bipartisan effort.

“This is going nowhere, we know it’s going nowhere. This is just a vote to make people feel good,” Axne told Politico. “I want to help people, and that means sitting at the table and getting the damn deal done.”

Representtive Ben McAdams (D., Utah), voted no and called on Pelosi to reach a deal with Mnuchin ahead of the House’s slated departure this weekend. 

“Republicans have put forward a serious offer and I think leadership should stay at the table and get this across the finish line,” McAdams told Politico. “It’s a serious offer and a good faith offer, and it feels like we are close.”

Yet Pelosi has still pushed back on accepting a deal with Mnuchin, saying an adequate deal will not be reached “if we take the path of least resistance, and just do whatever they put forth. That’s doing their bill, that’s not doing the people’s worth.”

She chose to instead hold a vote on a smaller version of the $3.4 trillion relief package the House passed in May that would reinstate the weekly $600 increase in unemployment benefits, send Americans a second round of direct stimulus checks and set aside funding for state and local governments, schools and nutritional programs. 

She told House Democrats that Republicans don’t “share our values” on providing a second large, sweeping relief package, including on aid for state and local governments and a child tax credit. Democrats have asked for tens of billions of dollars for the credit, while Mnuchin has said he will not approve any new spending. 

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany accused the House speaker of “not being serious” in the negotiations.

“We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion,” she said. “It is a good proposal but is one she is not interested in.”

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