President Donald Trump this week declared the Democrats’ proposal “DOA.”
Similar to the first major coronavirus aid package signed into law in late March, the 1,815-page HEROES Act would provide up to $1,200 in payments (or $2,400 for married couples), with an extra $1,200 per dependent up to a maximum of three. The income thresholds are the same as in the earlier CARES Act, with money for people making up to $99,000 and couples up to $198,000. The amount would start to reduce from $1,200 above thresholds of $75,000 and $150,000, respectively.
The bill passed by a vote of 208-199 and now heads to the Senate. One Republican backed the bill, while 14 Democrats voted against it.
To allow access to the payments for immigrants, the measure removes the requirement of a Social Security number from CARES Act and allows people to file tax returns with a taxpayer identification number (or TIN).
The HEROES legislation also includes:
-Nearly $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments
-Extending $600-per-week addition for unemployment benefits through January 2021
-Expanded coronavirus testing, contact tracing and treatment and a requirement for the Trump administration to develop a national testing strategy
-Enhancing tax credits for employers to keep workers on their payrolls
-Support to help renters and homeowners make monthly rent, mortgage and utility payments
-$10 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to support anticipated increases in participation for food stamps
-$3.6 billion for grants to states for contingency planning and preparation for elections for federal office
The House on Friday also passed a resolution to temporarily change House rules to allow for proxy voting and remote committee work during the pandemic, an unprecedented shift to how the chamber operates. It passed mostly along party lines.
After the vote Friday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was thrilled with the outcome.
“I’m so proud of my members just did something so monumental to the American people. For their health, for their lives, for their livelihood, and for our democracy,” she said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Pelosi put pressure on her members Thursday night after some progressives and moderates expressed concern, telling lawmakers: “If you vote against this and all this funding for your state, then you have to go home and defend it. And if you can defend that no vote, then you’re a better politician than me.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted yes on the Heroes Act on Friday, though she said she struggled with the decision all day and has a number of issues with it.
She was optimistic about negotiations going forward, however.
“I think that there’s actual room for expansion in the Senate negotiation, not just contraction,” the lawmaker said. “And honestly, some of the things that Republicans don’t like I don’t like either. So I think that there’s even more room there. So we’ll see where it goes but you know this isn’t a final passage vote. It’s a first step vote.”
Ahead of the vote, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took to the House floor to criticize the bill.
“I listened to what Speaker Pelosi told your conference — to go big. Instead of going big, it seems you went crazy. This is a political messaging bill that has no chance at becoming law,” McCarthy said.
Trump and top administration officials have recently made clear that they aren’t interested in negotiating another aid package yet and that they should hit the pause button on approving more funding.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has echoed that argument, though he suggested in an interview on Fox News Thursday night that he’s open to another round of negotiations.
McConnell, however, has slammed the House Democrats’ proposal as just a measure containing a wish list of Democratic priorities that he has said are unrelated to the current crisis.
“I think we all believe that another bill probably is going to be necessary,” he said. “But I’m not prepared today to put a precise date on when that will be.”