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.
“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.