House Passes $2.2 Trillion Stimulus Bill, But That Doesn’t Mean $1,200 Checks And More Unemployment Benefits Are On The Way
The House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill Thursday evening in a 214-207 vote, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued to push for a last-minute, bipartisan compromise on the next round of aid—the vote is a symbolic step from Democrats, as the legislation is widely opposed by Senate Republicans and is not expected to become law.
The $2.2 trillion plan passed by House Democrats is a pared-down and updated version of the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act, which passed the House in May but was not taken up by the Republican-led Senate.
It includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits, $436 billion in new state and local aid, $282 billion for education and childcare, and new money for the hard-hit airline and restaurant industries, among other provisions.
Democrats were able to cut the price tag of the original Heroes Act by more than $1 trillion largely by shortening the duration of those benefits, but House Republicans called the new bill “dead on arrival” in the Senate (they described the original Heroes Act in the same way).
Many Republican members of the House oppose the $2.2 trillion plan as partisan, unrealistic and, most critically, too expensive (the most recent offering from Senate Republicans, which was quickly blocked by Democrats, included just $300 billion in new spending).
Without White House and at least some Senate Republican support, the “Heroes Act 2.0” doesn’t have any meaningful chance at becoming law—it’s not even clear if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be willing to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote since a significant portion of his party doesn’t support it.
“This is not just a money debate and a language debate,” Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “It’s a values debate.”
“Today’s so-called compromise isn’t realistic or responsible,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said during debate. “It’s the Pelosi Pipedream 2.0 and it’s filled with the same radical, reckless and ridiculous ideas as the first bill.”
18. That’s how many Democrats voted against the bill. No Republicans crossed the aisle to vote in favor of the plan.
The vote comes as Pelosi and Mnuchin—negotiating on behalf of congressional Democrats and the White House, respectively—have been so far unable to broker a deal on the next round of federal aid. Mnuchin on Wednesday presented Pelosi with the White House’s counteroffer package, which is worth $1.6 trillion and included $250 billion in state and local aid and $400 in weekly federal unemployment benefits. As of Thursday afternoon, the two sides were still facing major disagreements over the amount of new funding for state and local aid (the White House is offering about half of what Democrats want) and the structure of some potential tax changes, including a Democratic bid to make the Child Tax Credit more generous.
The updated Heroes Act does serve a purpose for Pelosi, even if it never becomes law. Vulnerable Democrats in the House—especially those from purple districts, who have grown anxious over the last months as top policymakers in Washington were unable to reach a deal—will next week return home to campaign ahead of the November election. They’ll now be able to tell their constituents that they voted in favor of more federal relief for struggling Americans as lawmakers on the other side of the aisle blocked the measure. This anxiety is not limited to Democrats, either. Politico reported Thursday that vulnerable Republicans in the Senate are also beginning to air their concerns about the lack of new federal response to the coronavirus crisis.
What To Watch For
Pelosi and Mnuchin are expected to continue to work in pursuit of a compromise even though Pelosi signaled there would be no deal on Thursday night. The top negotiators restarted talks this week after negotiations fell apart at the end of the summer.
Still No Deal On Second Stimulus As Early Optimism Wanes (Forbes)
Stimulus Update: Mnuchin Says Next Bill To Include $1,200 Checks ‘If There Is A Deal,’ Offers Pelosi $1.6 Trillion (Forbes)
No Second Stimulus Deal Today: House Democrats Move To Vote On Their Own Bill, McConnell Throws Cold Water On Talks (Forbes)
Mnuchin Will Present Pelosi With Second Stimulus Offer Today (Forbes)