House Democrats’ have finally revealed the details of their latest coronavirus relief proposal – and boy is it a doozie.
The highly partisan coronavirus stimulus package would be the most expensive one to date, with a price tag of more than $3 trillion, and roughly one third of it would go directly to bailout state, local, and tribal governments.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the proposal –the “HEROES Act”– in a televised address from the Capitol Tuesday: “We face the biggest catastrophe in our nation’s history,” Pelosi said.
“This is a moment when many millions of our fellow Americans are in deep suffering,” Pelosi said. “We must have empathy for our heroes.”
Pelosi continued posturing for the cameras: “We must also empathize with the pain of families who do not know where their next meals are coming from and how to pay next month’s rent.”
The plan calls for a new $200 billion Heroes’ Fund to ensure essential workers who have put their health and safety on the line receive hazard pay during the pandemic. The legislation also directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create new worker safety standards for employers.
It also calls for another round of $1,200 stimulus payments to go out to most Americans, with a maximum of $6,000 per household. This time around however, illegal immigrants, college students, non-child dependents would also be eligible to receive the payment.
Democrats are also looking to extend the extra $600 federal unemployment insurance through January of 2021, pause student loans through September and spend about $175 billion to subsidize rent and mortgage payments.
The legislation will provide expanded food assistance through a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits. The legislation also funds mail-in voting, election assistance and $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service.
The legislation also extends the provisions in the forgivable loan program for small businesses known as the Paycheck Protection Program from eight weeks to 24 weeks, but fails to add more money to the PPP fund.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer alerted House members who have been away on recess to return to Washington Friday. The House is scheduled to vote on the massive coronavirus legislation and a proposal to allow lawmakers to work remotely.
“This is an unprecedented time in our history,” Hoyer said. “…And as a result, we need to respond in unprecedented ways with unprecedented resources.”
Although Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he’s comfortable borrowing that much money because of historically low interest rates, Republicans are being more cautious when it comes to indebting the country another $3 trillion.
“I don’t think we have yet felt the urgency of acting immediately, but that time could develop, but I don’t think it has yet,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday.
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy blasted Pelosi for drafting a “liberal wish list” while Congress is still on recess.
“Now she wants to write a $3 trillion bill, with no one able to see, no accountability, and no input,” McCarthy told Fox News on Monday. “I mean, this is not how democracy works. This is a real concern to all of us this won’t ever become law, but it’ll be the wishlist of the liberals, to try to change election law, fund Planned Parenthood, and make sure sanctuary cities get the chunk of the money.”
House leadership refused to involve the White House or Senate Republicans in drafting this legislation which signals the bill isn’t going far.
The Democrats’ bill is nothing more than a “messaging exercise,” said Sen. John Thune. As Republicans in general dismissed the breathtakingly expensive bill as aspirational legislation with little chance of becoming law.
Republicans instead argue for a different, more mature solution than throwing money at the problem.
Republicans want to give people back their freedom by letting Americans get back to work and let America shine once again.