Dec. 21, 2020 by David Silverberg
The US House of Representatives tonight passed a massive $900 billion coronavirus relief bill, which will provide $600 to Americans making less than $75,000 per year who have lost jobs in the pandemic.
Passage of the 5,593-page bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 (House Resolution 133), which originally dealt with US-Mexican relations before it was extensively amended, required two votes. The first passed by 327 votes to 85.
Southwest Florida Reps. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) both voted for the measure. Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) voted against it.
The second portion of the bill passed by a vote of 359 to 53, with Rooney and Diaz-Balart again voting for it and Steube again opposing it.
“I voted NO on tonight’s so-called relief bill,” Steube tweeted. “Instead of addressing the economic suffering of Americans, Democrats have manipulated this process to force their radical agenda on the American people during a time of crisis.” He expanded on his objections in a longer statement.
House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) said in a floor speech that while there was more work to do to stop the pandemic and help Americans, the bill “will meet the needs of the American people—to crush this virus and to do so in a way that brings us all into the future in a very safe way.”
The gigantic piece of legislation also includes another bill of vital importance to Southwest Florida, the Water Resources Development Act, which governs all the water sources in the region.
The bill included one proposal by Diaz-Balart. It allows citizens who file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) rather than a Social Security number to receive benefits. Legal Permanent Residents can receive stimulus payments as well. Under previous versions of the Paycheck Protection Program both groups were ineligible for payments. This also applies to ITIN users married to spouses who are ineligible for payments.
“As I have stated before, there is no reason to justify why a US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident should be excluded from receiving a benefit meant for Americans simply due to the legal status of a spouse,” stated Diaz-Balart. “I am thrilled to see that this provision was taken into consideration in this new COVID relief bill, and I look forward to seeing the great impact this will make in helping the American people.”
In addition to providing paycheck protection and passage of the Water Resources Development Act, the bill, based on a House-Senate bipartisan agreement:
- Accelerates vaccine distribution;
- Ends surprise medical billing;
- Supports small business;
- Helps community lenders;
- Assists renters;
- Strengthens low income housing tax credits;
- Supports paid sick leave;
- Enhances unemployment insurance benefits;
- Provides nutrition assistance for the hungry;
- Aids education and child care;
- Expands grants for education;
- Encourages clean energy;
- Helps fund international vaccine efforts.
“We are disappointed that Republicans have refused to recognize the need to honor our heroic frontline workers by supporting robust funding for state and local governments,” stated Pelosi. “State and local governments need much more funding to prevent senseless layoffs and critical service cuts.”
The bill now goes back to the Senate, where it is expected to pass quickly—possibly within hours of the House’s vote—and then be signed by President Donald Trump. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has stated that, once signed, government-issued checks could go out as soon as next week.
Liberty lives in light
© 2020 by David Silverberg