House passes $3T HEROES Act; Rooney absent for fifth virus vote, Diaz-Balart, Steube oppose

Capitol at night 5-16-20 cropped

May 16, 2020 by David Silverberg.

By a vote of 208 to 199 the US House of Representatives last night approved the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, House Resolution 6800, a $3 trillion bill to provide relief to the economy as well as states and localities devastated by the coronavirus and its quarantines.

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) was absent, marking the fifth major coronavirus-related vote he has missed. Rooney did not issue a statement explaining his absence.

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) and Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) both opposed the bill.

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) in a lengthy floor speech  said: “The Congress must honor its responsibility to the American people to lessen the blow of the coronavirus by making the same serious investment of The Heroes Act to our state, local, tribal and territorial governments.” The bill, she said, “will make a tremendous difference not only in the budgets in the states, but in the lives of the American people.”

In a statement, Diaz-Balart called the bill “an irresponsible, blatantly partisan effort that was written behind closed doors by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” (The full text is below.) Steube denounced the bill as “Pelosi’s liberal wishlist.”

The vote did not go entirely along partisan lines. One Republican, Rep. Peter King (R-2-NY), voted for it and 14 Democrats opposed it.

The bill will now go to the Senate, where the Republican majority is likely to either extensively rewrite it or kill it altogether. President Donald Trump has threatened to veto it.

Among other things, the bill:

  • provides FY2020 emergency supplemental appropriations to federal agencies;
  • provides payments and other assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments;
  • provides additional direct payments of up to $1,200 per individual;
  • expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, unemployment compensation, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, and payments to farmers;
  • modifies and expands the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations;
  • establishes a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for essential workers;
  • expands several tax credits and deductions;
  • provides funding and establishes requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing;
  • eliminates cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments;
  • extends and expands the moratorium on certain evictions and foreclosures; and
  • requires employers to develop and implement infectious disease exposure control plans.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s statement on HR 6800:

“This $3 trillion, 1,800-page legislation is an irresponsible, blatantly partisan effort that was written behind closed doors by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It’s shameful that during this time of crisis, House Leadership is wasting invaluable time on a bill that is nothing more than a wasteful spending wish list that will never become law. While we must continue to help the American people, we cannot lose sight of excessive, reckless spending and the long-term adverse effects it will have on our children and grandchildren. House Democratic Leadership should put politics aside and work across the aisle to reach a bipartisan agreement for the American people who desperately need it.”

Liberty lives in light

©2020 by David Silverberg

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