House Democrats introduced a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that drew criticism from both the left and the right, Politico reports.
The bill, called the Heroes Act, includes $875 billion in aid to state and local governments, a second round of $1,200 payments to individuals, $75 billion to ramp up testing, $20 billion in relief aid to tribal governments, $10 billion in small business aid, and $25 billion to bail out the postal service, $75 billion for mortgage relief, $100 billion in renter assistance, and $3.6 billion to shore up elections, among other provisions.
Under the bill, children would receive the same $1,200 as adults, unlike the previous bill which capped aid to children at $500 each.
"We must think big for the people now because if we don’t it will cost more in lives and livelihood later,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday. "Not acting is the most expensive course. We are presenting a plan to do what is necessary to deal with the corona crisis and make sure we can get the country back to work and school safely."
"We can all agree that we must open our economy as quickly as we can but we must do so based on science and data," she added. "The key to opening the door is testing, tracing, treatment and social distancing."
Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan, the heads of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, called to postpone the Friday vote on the bill, arguing it doesn’t go far enough.
"Under no circumstances are we ready to vote on the bill this week," Jayapal told Politico, arguing it needed to include help for unemployed Americans, more support for small businesses, and access to health care.
Jayapal had proposed a $650 billion “Paycheck Guarantee” program but it was excluded. The bill instead includes a $200 billion “Employee Retention Tax Credit” for businesses.
"This is not going to be the last word nor the final word as we go forward. And her proposal is certainly under great discussion,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said. "We want all members to support this legislation with that provision in or out.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the proposal as "not something designed to deal with reality but designed to deal with aspirations."
"I'm in discussion, we all are, with the administration," he said. "If we reach a decision along with the administration to move to another phase, that will be the time to interact with the Democrats."
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters the House plan was “dead on arrival.”