Vote on COVID stimulus bill imminent as debate draws to an end
Democratic and Republican lawmakers made a final plea on the massive spending COVID-19 legislation on the House floor Wednesday.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., implored his Republican colleagues to vote on the $1.9 trillion package, citing the popularity of the bill among American citizens.
“I regret that the overwhelming support that I just described has not been translated into unity in this chamber. This is bipartisan in America, even if it’s not bipartisan in this chamber,” he said.
Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., called the legislation a “progressive wish list forced down by the Democrat party.”
Continuing to slam Democrats for calling the legislation progressive themselves, Smith described it as excessive and said, “Democrats made a choice: a choice to put their own partisan political ambitions ahead of the needs of the working class. Ahead of the needs of the American people. When our Democrat colleagues speak of unity, they mean keeping their party together, not pulling this country together.
“That is why we have before us this wrong plan at the wrong time for so many wrong reasons,” he continued.
Citing poverty “exasperated by COVID-19”, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C. said, “I call upon my Republican colleagues to stop their march madness and show some compassion for their constituents who are less than wealthy.”
— Savannah Behrmann
Debate starts in the House over COVID-19 stimulus bill
Debate began in the House on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, setting the stage for its final passage Wednesday.
The House started two hours of debate on amendments made to the legislation, known as the American Rescue Plan. The legislation narrowly passed the Senate last week; both chambers of Congress must approve the same version.
The Senate had amended the stimulus bill to include a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit through August. The change is an adjustment to the legislation passed in the House, which sought to increase the benefits to $400 a week.
The Senate also made a major change that will limit who will be getting $1,400 stimulus checks.
Democrats are expected to pass the bill in the House, but with no Republicans on board and some progressives upset with the changes. House Democrats can only afford to lose four votes and still pass the bill. Two Democrats voted against the House’s version of the bill when it passed last week.
– Savannah Behrmann
GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene delays House debate on stimulus bill
Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene forced the House to delay debating and voting on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 stimulus bill on Wednesday by forcing a vote to adjourn House proceedings ahead of the debate.
Making a motion to adjourn is a procedural move that makes every lawmaker come to the floor and vote for or against keeping Congress in session that day.
Speaking from the House floor, Greene said, “This Congress is ramming through unbelievable things at a rapid pace. This must be stopped. We have to give pause and consideration to what we are doing.”
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., called the delay “unconscionable.”
“I quite frankly think it’s unconscionable that they are doing everything they can to try to again delay getting aid to people, including their constituents, who are in desperate need,” McGovern said. “I’m counting the minutes. But people need the help.”
Every Democrat and a swathe of Republicans across the ideological spectrum voted against Greene’s effort. Dozens of Republicans, including Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Crenshaw, Greg Pence and Virginia Foxx, all voted with Democrats.
— Savannah Behrmann
Democrats appear confident they’ll pass Biden’s COVID relief bill
House Democrats appeared confident they would pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill in a crucial Wednesday vote likely to be a milestone in Joe Biden’s presidency, one hinging on his ability to lead America out of the coronavirus crisis.
The House expects to hold a morning vote on Biden’s chief piece of legislation, the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks, billions for vaccines, and money to reopen schools.
Its final passage will cap months of negotiations, beginning when Biden introduced his plan in mid-January before he took office. Along the way, the bill faced united opposition from Republicans, misgivings from moderate Democrats and progressives and multiple legislative hurdles.
The legislation is anticipated to pass without any Republican support in the Democratic-majority House, unlike previous COVID relief plans that drew bipartisan support over the past year.
Democrats are likely to stay united around the legislation, despite complaints from progressives about compromises made in the Senate’s version of the legislation. Two Democrats voted against the bill when its first version passed the House two weeks ago, but one of the lawmakers, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., said Monday he would support the bill.
And a progressive Democrat, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., who expressed concerns about voting for the final legislation, said Tuesday she would support it.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday he was “110% confident” they had the votes to pass the legislation, and Pelosi said she was not concerned about losing any more Democrats on the vote.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., told reporters, “I think we only lost two on the first time and I think we at least cut it in half this time,” referring to Schrader.
Republicans in Congress lined up in opposition to the bill, denouncing it as full of provisions not related to COVID-19 and questioning whether another $1.9 trillion package was needed after Congress authorized a $900 billion package in December.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., slammed the bill as full of provisions “not targeted, not temporary, not related to COVID.”
Once the House passes the bill, Biden is expected to sign it shortly after. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday the $1,400 stimulus payments could start going out “this month” after the bill is signed.