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 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 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.
In a letter to House Democrats on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urged her colleagues to vote in favor of the HEROES legislation, asking them to consider young people who are "missing the thrill of their in-person graduations.""We must give them hope by alleviating the challenge that our country faces to making the future better for them," she said. "I urge our colleagues to consider all of them, their own states and their own constituents as they make a decision today that is so important to our country."
Pelosi also 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. Kendra Horn, D-Okla., tweeted that Congress should find "common ground" and not engage in a partisan exercise. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., announced that she’s going to vote against it and urged bipartisan negotiations between the House and Senate.
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.
Despite the opposition, the bill is still expected to pass with the support of most Democrats and some Republicans.
Meanwhile, 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."
Speaking on the House floor, Pelosi maintained the time for action is now.
"Some of the Members say, ‘Let's take a pause.’ Let's take a pause? Do you think this virus is taking a pause? Do you think that the rent takes a pause?" Pelosi said. "The hardship of losing a job doesn't take a pause or tragically losing a loved one. It doesn't take a pause."