House Passes $2.2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

House Passes $2.2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Bill
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks to the press at the US Capitol in Washington, on Sept. 23, 2020. (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

The House of Representatives late Thursday passed the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill.

Although eighteen Democrats crossed party lines to vote against the measure, the bill passed in a 214-207 vote. It received no Republican support.
The proposal (pdf), which is the Democrat-controlled House’s sixth bill in response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, is about $1.2 trillion less than the original $3.4 trillion HEROES Act that Democrats passed in the House in May. The updated bill was introduced on Monday.
Referred to as the updated HEROES Act (pdf), it seeks to provide another round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals and $500 per dependent—down from the $1,200 for dependents, which was included in the first HEROES Act.
It would also provide $600 in weekly unemployment benefits through to January, which had expired in July, and the following funding to assist schools, small businesses, restaurants, airlines, and other industries:
  • $436 billion for one year’s worth of assistance to state, local, territorial, and tribal governments
  • $75 billion to support COVID-19 testing, tracing, and treatment
  • $225 billion for education and $57 billion to support child care
  • Billions to support for small businesses through improving the Paycheck Protection Program, with targeted assistance for the restaurant industry and independent live venue operators
  • Additional assistance for airline industry workers, including $25 billion to cover passenger airlines, $3 billion to airline contractors, and $300 million to cargo airlines
  • Funding for the postal service, food stamps, and housing assistance
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey said in a statement that the updated version of the HEROES Act is “a strong bill that meets the needs of the American people.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continue their negotiations after having failed to reach an agreement on a stimulus package following a discussion on Sept. 30.

White House press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Thursday that the White House had raised its offer to $1.6 trillion and accused Pelosi of “not being serious.”

“If she becomes serious, then we can have a discussion here,” McEnany said. “But when you lower your offer $2.2 trillion, and you ask for direct payments to illegal immigrants, and you ask for certain deportation forgivenesses in your offer, it’s not a serious offer. What we are talking about here is relief for the American people, for American citizens, not direct payments for illegal immigrants.”

She added, “We [The White House] raised our offer to $1.6 trillion; Among that was $250 billion for state and local. The $250 billion for state and local is the estimated loss because of COVID. And also, there’s $150 billion for schools, $50 billion above what Nancy Pelosi asked for. It is a good proposal, but it’s one that she [Pelosi] is not interested in.”

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has said that President Donald Trump won’t approve legislation that approaches a $2 trillion threshold.

Meadows said on Wednesday that the Trump administration has presented a new stimulus proposal to House Democrats worth over $1.5 trillion that includes a $20 billion extension in aid for the airline industry.

The House’s passage of its $2.2 trillion stimulus bill comes as two of the largest U.S. carriers, American Airlines and United Airlines, said they were furloughing about 32,000 workers with the expiration of aid earlier this year.

It also comes as the Labor Department’s jobless claims report (pdf) released Thursday showed that another 837,000 Americans have filed for unemployment. The figure is down from 36,000 from the previous week but remains well above the Great Recession peak of 665,000 weekly filings.