House approves smaller virus relief package, but still no final deal

House approves smaller virus relief package, but still no final deal

Even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin worked on a possible agreement for extra Coronavirus relief, the House on Thursday night approved a slimmed-down $2.2 trillion relief package from Democrats, but seemed to bring Congress no closer to any measure which could win the President’s signature.

The vote was 214-207, as 18 Democrats refused to support the plan, many arguing it was not a bipartisan effort, and too expensive. All Republicans opposed it.

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“How about we do our jobs and cut a deal,” argued Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY).

“We are going be voting on a piece of legislation that was not negotiated, that is dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate,” said Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH).

The vote was the latest effort by Democrats to break a logjam over extra Coronavirus aid for individuals and small businesses.

Democrats in the House approved a $3.4 trillion measure back on May 15 - but that’s never made any headway in the GOP-controlled Senate.

“The economists have told us that if we don’t spend the money now, the economic downturn will be much worse,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA).

“The number of people who are still out of work is astounding,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA).

The plan includes money to help schools re-open and deal with the virus outbreak, more resources for virus testing and tracing, emergency aid for unemployed workers and businesses, extra financial help for the airlines, and much more.

But with no agreement between House Democrats and the White House - and Senate Republicans still standing on the sidelines - the odds still are not in favor of any new aid package before the elections.