U.S. House Approved $2.2 Trillion COVID-19 Aid Plan Amid Republicans Opposition

On Thursday, October 1, 2020, the United States (U.S.) House of Representatives approved a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 assistance plan in a narrow margin despite Republicans have already claimed to be opposing the proposal in earlier talks. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House have shown different opinions in the regard to the amount mentioned in the coronavirus aid proposal despite they both agreed to further extend the assistance program.

For this year, Congress and the White House earlier approved more than $3 trillion worth of coronavirus relief measures. However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as well as members of Congress from both parties have agreed to extend more stimulus to support the ailing economy impacted by the pandemic, which has killed more than 207,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.

Pelosi and Mnuchin have been in various talks this week including a 50-minute phone call on Thursday, to negotiate a bipartisan coronavirus aid package and secure relief ahead of the November 3 election for tens of millions of American jobs and business including U.S. airlines, which have begun furloughing over 32,000 workers.

Democrats Supported COVID-19 Aid Plan

With a narrow margin of 214-207 voting, the Democratic Party dominated the House of Representatives has passed the proposal to provide more economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic. Not a single Republican voted in favor of the plan while 18 Democrats voted “no” despite many leaders wanted to bring a bipartisan proposal to the House floor.

Many experts suggested that the package would be doomed due to the objection from Republicans in the Senate. Representative Abigail Spanberger, one of the Democrats who voted no, said, “Today’s package is another partisan exercise that will never become law.” Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the $2.2 trillion price tag “outlandish.”

Although Democrats have reduced the cost of their proposal by over a trillion dollars since May, Republican President Donald Trump’s negotiating team has suggested a $1.6 trillion in response. The Democratic-majority House went ahead and passed the Democrats’ proposal in the absence of a deal with the White House.

Republicans Opposition to the Bill

Reflecting on the uncertainty of the proposed bill, Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that there was no resolution to her negotiation with the administration. She added, “Even if we came to some agreement, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to. It’s the language.” After Pelosi and Mnuchin’s phone call Thursday afternoon, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill wrote on Twitter, “The two discussed further clarifications on amounts and language, but the distance on key areas remain.”

Pelosi and Mnuchin differed over several issues as Democratic demands for a child tax credit and stronger worker safety protections, healthcare provisions, and help for small businesses. With this development, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said. “Frankly if we had reached a bipartisan agreement…we wouldn’t have this bill on the floor,” reflecting the wide difference between the Democrats and the White House.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany dismissed the Democratic proposal as “not a serious offer.” Similarly, Republican Senator Mike Braun told CNBC on Thursday that Republicans could easily defeat a deal, which is worth over $1.6 trillion in a Senate voting.