House Democrats Move to Pass the Next Coronavirus Bill Without GOP Support

May 8, 2020by Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times (TNS)
Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) looks on as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during news conference at the U.S. Capitol, April 29, 2020 Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — As they work on the next bill to respond to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, House Democrats are eschewing negotiations with Republicans or the White House, and hope to vote on their own measure as soon as next week.

It marks a change of course for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin successfully negotiated two of the last three major bills to respond to the pandemic.

Democrats are putting together a bill focused on new spending for localities, individuals and testing — knowing that they will eventually have to negotiate with Republicans to get legislation through the Senate.

“We have to start someplace. Rather than starting in a way that does not meet the needs of the American people, you want to set a standard,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol on Thursday. “We need a presidential signature, so at some point we’ll have to get an agreement.”

Democrats are betting that the public will favor their aggressive response over the more cautious approach that Republicans have embraced in recent weeks. GOP leaders say they want to give the prior bills — which have already added $2.8 trillion to the national deficit — a chance to work and then focus on making tweaks to existing programs. They are rallying around a plan to protect business owners from lawsuits stemming from employees or customers as they reopen their shops.

The Democrats’ bill will be centered around significant funding — perhaps $1 trillion — for state and local governments. Republicans have balked at that kind of spending, saying that they don’t want to bail out states that were in a precarious financial state before the virus came to the United States.

Democrats have framed the spending as a “heroes” bill, arguing that the money would go to fund the police officers, firefighters, transit workers and public school teachers who are paid by local governments.

With a hint of frustration, Pelosi said Democrats have brought these ideas to the table in prior negotiations.

“A part of this is things that they never agreed to before and kept saying, ‘in the next bill, in the next bill, in the next bill,’” she said.

The legislation is expected to include up to $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, which is facing a fiscal shortfall; an expansion of the existing Family Medical Leave Act program; enhanced standards for workplace safety; expansion of unemployment insurance; enhanced Medicaid spending for the states; and food assistance.

The legislation is also expected to include new “triggers” for benefits when certain metrics are met, such as when unemployment levels hit a predetermined number.

Rank-and-file lawmakers have introduced dozens of ideas that could get incorporated, including a $2,000-per-person payment to most Americans and student loan forgiveness for medical workers.

Pelosi acknowledged that this bill’s path would be different, but said negotiations with Republicans would come later.

“We’re very proud that our first four bills were bipartisan and we hope that we can continue that,” she said. “We’re not drawing any red lines in the sand or anything like that. I hope they won’t.”

Democratic leaders are expected to release a bill in the coming days, with a vote expected as soon as early next week. House members are home in their districts and would have to come back to Washington for passage. At that time, House Democrats are expected to approve of a plan to allow members to vote remotely by proxy on future legislation during the pandemic.

Republicans are skeptical of voting by proxy, arguing that the House can make accommodations to work safely. But a handful of members of both parties are in negotiations on a possible path forward.

Meanwhile, Republicans on Thursday focused their efforts on China, whose “cover-up directly led to this crisis,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

He announced the creation of a China task force that will be responsible for developing legislation to respond to Beijing’s handling of the outbreak. Several Republicans introduced a bill to rename the street outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington “Li Wenliang Plaza” in honor of Dr. Li Wenliang, the Wuhan-based physician who warned the world about the virus before he succumbed to the disease.

———

©2020 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Congress

Self-Help Guide to Congress: Reports Detail Ways the Institution Could Better Itself
Congress
Self-Help Guide to Congress: Reports Detail Ways the Institution Could Better Itself

WASHINGTON — Proposals for how Congress could overhaul the lobbying disclosure system, provide lawmakers with continuing education opportunities and make legislative action more transparent are just a few of the big ideas in eight reports made public by the House Select Committee on the Modernization of... Read More

The Congressional Appropriations Process Explained
Federal Budget
The Congressional Appropriations Process Explained
July 10, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - When House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer explains the congressional appropriations process, it all sounds so simple. "Funding the government is the Constitutional responsibility of the Congress," he told The Well News recently, in a statement for this article. "House Democrats are committed to meeting... Read More

House Military Spending Bill Barring Funds for Border Wall Advances
Congress
House Military Spending Bill Barring Funds for Border Wall Advances

WASHINGTON — House appropriators approved a $115.5 billion Military Construction-VA spending bill Thursday on a 30-20 vote, with Texas Republican Will Hurd joining Democrats to advance the legislation to the floor. The rest of the panel’s Republicans opposed Democrats’ decision to add $12.5 billion in emergency spending to the annual... Read More

Corporate Leaders Suggest Bailout for Minority and Women Businesses
Economy
Corporate Leaders Suggest Bailout for Minority and Women Businesses
July 10, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON - Business leaders, during a congressional hearing Thursday, advocated for greater access to financial services for minority and women-owned businesses. They said government bailout money and low-interest loans for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic are going first to established corporations that lack large representation by... Read More

A Kennedy Emerges as Upset Winner in NJ Congressional District to Face Jeff Van Drew
2020 Elections
A Kennedy Emerges as Upset Winner in NJ Congressional District to Face Jeff Van Drew

A member of the storied Kennedy political family emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee in a South Jersey congressional district late Tuesday, defying expectations that it would take days before results were clear in the state’s primary election while officials count hundreds of thousands of mail... Read More

Congress Told Russia’s Putin is a Growing Threat to the U.S.
Congress
Congress Told Russia’s Putin is a Growing Threat to the U.S.
July 7, 2020
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON - Foreign policy experts at a congressional hearing Tuesday described the Russian government as increasingly troubled under the rule of Vladimir Putin and a growing threat to the United States. They said recent reports that the Russian military paid Taliban fighters to kill American soldiers... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top