House Passes Historic $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill
Despite some last-minute obstacles to overcome, the House of Representatives was able to pass the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill this morning, sending the historic bill to President Trump’s desk for approval.
The bill, which was passed by the Senate late Wednesday night, provides hundreds of billions of dollars for the industries, small businesses, unemployed workers, and health care providers, which have all been hit hard by the current pandemic.
Trump has said he will sign the bill immediately.
The House Democratic leaders were able to move the package by voice vote, a rarely used procedure that allowed a few members to air their objections without causing the entire chamber to reconvene.
But that didn’t stop some last-minute drama from popping up though.
In order for the bill to be passed, both parties had to unite to overcome a blockade brought on by Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who drove up to Washington for the vote and requested a recorded tally, which necessitates the participation of at least half of all sitting House members.
The parties were able to thwart this effort by taking advantage of an insufficient number that rose in favor of his roll-call, which let the faster voice-vote to stand.
This didn’t mean that his grandstanding caused any less stress for everyone else, as both parties were scrambling Thursday night to get enough people in Washington for the vote. This angered many people who were upset about defying the recommendations of the congressional physician and other health experts, who advise against such gatherings.
Massie was not allowed to speak on the floor, which caused him to take to Twitter to criticize his own party.
Even those who did not make the trip out to Washington were quick to criticize Massie for the request, with many of them claiming he was jeopardizing their health in forcing them back to Washington.
Trump was one critic of Massie, giving his own critique of the representative on Twitter:
Massie has defended his actions, saying that the Senate’s legislation defied the constitutional requirement that federal spending bills originate in the House. He said, “
The senate did some voodoo just like with Obamacare… It’s the House’s job to reject the process.”
Regardless of his reasons, the effort did not work, and both parties agreeing on the voice-vote shows how much pressure Congress is under to counter-act the damages that have been done. Over 1,300 American deaths, tanked markets, and widespread layoffs have all built up to the pressure.
Among the major provisions of the bill, the package will give cash payment of up to $1,200 for individual Americans, $367 billion in low-cost loans for small businesses, expands unemployment insurance by $250 billion, while extending benefits by 13 weeks.
The bill has met criticism from both parties. Democrats have criticized the bill as a corporate giveaway, and the absence of paid leave and strengthening of worker-safety protections.
Conservatives took issue with the sheer size of the bill, and how much of the provisions they deemed extraneous.
But the reality of the situation proved to be too much, bringing both parties together to vote in favor of it. Now, the package is sent to the president’s desk where it will get its next, and last, approval.
Both the Senate and the House are expected to be taking an extended recess – until late April – but Nancy Pelosi warns both chambers to be ready to come back at any time, should a need arise.
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