House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to take a victory lap of sorts Thursday as the House moved to pass a $2.2 trillion economic rescue plan to battle the coronavirus pandemic and send it to President Trump for his immediate signature on Friday.
“I anticipate and feel certain that we will have a strong bipartisan vote,” Mrs. Pelosi said of the expected action on Friday.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, agreed with that assessment but criticized Mrs. Pelosi for delaying negotiations while attempting to insert a “wish list” of liberal priorities into the package.
“We just watched in the last week 3.28 million people laid off,” he said of the weekly unemployment claims reported by the Labor Department on Thursday. “That is multiplying higher than we ever watched in the financial crisis. How many people were laid off as the Democrats fought to change the election law or implement the Green New Deal?”
The Green New Deal was never included in the House proposal, but there were provisions seeking to reduce airlines’ greenhouse gas emissions and provide expanded tax credits for solar and wind power.
Mrs. Pelosi boasted that Democrats had “won the day” in obtaining what they wanted from the Senate’s $2.2 trillion coronavirus recovery package, while hinting at other items she would like to see included in a forthcoming bill.
Mrs. Pelosi called the week-long negotiations with the White House and Senate Republican a “jiu-jitsu” that secured greater protections for workers and higher unemployment benefits.
Mr. McCarthy called her characterization “an outright lie.”
“The fundamental portions of this bill [have] not changed since Sunday,” Mr. McCarthy said. “The only few additions were funding of things that had nothing to do with the coronavirus,” citing $25 million for the Kennedy Center in Washington.
“She spent time thanking her members on wins,” Mr. McCarthy said. “America’s suffering does not care to hear about these superficial and fabricated claims. What Democrats did was a total disgrace. History will not be kind to the days that added to the millions who were unemployed.”
Mrs. Pelosi said she would like to see another package include more money to state and local governments, another increase for food stamps and clearer definitions of who is eligible for benefits.
“There are so many things that we didn’t get in these bills, yet, in the way we need to,” she said.
However, Mr. McCarthy was less enthusiastic about pushing ahead into phase four, arguing that Congress should wait to see how its first three bills are impacting the economy.
“If these bills are done correctly, put them to work,” he said. “If something is needed in the future let’s make that decision.”
The House, which has not entirely reconvened since going on recess two weeks ago, is reconfiguring its process to pass the massive recovery package Friday morning.
The pandemic has complicated the process of holding a vote for 430 lawmakers. Leadership plans to hold a voice vote, rather than attempt to pass the bill by unanimous consent — which only takes one objection to derail.
A voice vote, which simply determines if there are more ayes called out than nays, will be unrecorded, but members can record their opinion of the bill in the congressional record.
If a lawmaker demands the presence of a quorum, all the available House members who aren’t self-quarantining will need to reconvene and pass the vote in person on Saturday at the earliest.
To encourage participation in the debate without risking travel, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, is urging members to send in videos of their remarks that will be aired by C-SPAN.
“C-SPAN is coordinating technical details with the leadership offices and organizing its own internal operations to process the many individual videos the network is currently anticipating the members’ statements will air in blocks during prime time the week of March 30th,” the network said in a statement.
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