Senate To Vote On Targeted COVID Relief

Though Democratic Leaders Have Rejected Every Attempt So Far To Compromise On Crucial COVID-19 Assistance For Americans, Senate Republicans Are Offering ‘A New Targeted Proposal, Focused On Some Of The Very Most Urgent Healthcare, Education, And Economic Issues,’ So Congress Can Vote On What Members Already Agree On


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Senate Republicans have been trying for months to deliver more bipartisan relief to the American people. In July, we proposed another sweeping package totaling more than $1 trillion. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer said no. In August, we proposed narrowing discussions to the most urgent and bipartisan subjects. They blocked that too…. Everything Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have done suggests one simple motivation: They do not want American families to see any more bipartisan aid before the polls close on President Trump’s re-election. They have taken Americans’ health, jobs, and schools hostage for perceived partisan gain. Today, the Senate Republican majority is introducing a new targeted proposal, focused on some of the very most urgent healthcare, education, and economic issues. It does not contain every idea our party likes. I am confident Democrats will feel the same. Yet Republicans believe the many serious differences between our two parties should not stand in the way of agreeing where we can agree and making law that helps our nation. I will be moving immediately today to set up a floor vote as soon as this week.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 9/08/2020)

  • LEADER McCONNELL: “Last month, more than 100 House Democrats publicly asked Speaker Pelosi to stop stonewalling and let them vote on targeted COVID-19 relief. She ignored them, just like her piecemeal postal legislation ignored American families. I will make sure every Senate Democrat who has said they’d like to reach an agreement gets the opportunity to walk the walk.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 9/08/2020)

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY), Senate Republican Conference Chairman: “Republicans are offering targeted relief for those hardest hit by the virus. We have funding for schools to safely open. We’ve focused the Paycheck Protection Program on the small businesses most in need. Most importantly, we are fighting to put this disease behind us by continuing to respond to needs in testing, treatments, and the race for a vaccine. We’d welcome Democrats to work with us and govern. The American people deserve and need our help.” (Sen. Barrasso, Press Release, 9/08/2020)


Senate Republicans ‘Have A Focused, Targeted Solution That We Hope That The House Would Pass’

“Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.) said Tuesday morning the ‘goal’ is to vote on the legislation next week after the Senate returns from its August recess. ‘We have a focused, targeted solution that we hope that the House would pass and the House would agree to,’ he told Lisa Desjardins, a correspondent for ‘PBS NewsHour,’ after an early morning pro forma session. Barrasso said the legislation is ‘focused on getting people back to work, getting kids back to school.’ He said ‘it leaves out’ what he called ‘the so many things that [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi has put in her bill that are unrelated to coronavirus.’” (“Senate GOP ‘Goal’ Is To Vote Next Week On ‘Targeted’ Coronavirus Relief Bill,” The Hill, 9/01/2020)

“[Sen. Joni] Ernst [R-IA] said Republicans are considering more narrow coronavirus relief bills to push past the deadlock…. The … proposal includes $300 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits through Dec. 27, an increase from the last Republican proposal … After daily phone calls on the issue, Ernst said Monday that ‘it is looking more and more like we’ll vote when we get back next week on a package,’ hoping for stray Democrats in the Senate to bolster its passage but skeptical that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, would allow them to.” (“Ernst Gives Coronavirus Aid Negotiation Update,” The [Fort Dodge, IA] Messenger, 9/01/2020)

“Senate Republicans are likely to include a provision to provide billions of dollars for child care providers in the GOP’s narrow coronavirus relief bill, according to GOP sources. The child care component of the bill is expected to resemble the language in the Senate Republicans’ $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill, unveiled in late July. That provision allocated $15 billion for child care providers, including grants to help child care centers reopen and follow health and safety guidelines…. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told reporters Friday that he expected the caucus to vote on the … bill once they reach an agreement. But he also acknowledged that Democrats are all but guaranteed to block it. ‘We'll get a deal. It's just a question of when we vote on it,’ Burr said. ‘The unfortunate thing is, Speaker Pelosi has made it clear she's not gonna be supportive of anything, so it probably will fail in the last cloture vote.’” (“Senate Republicans Look To Add Money For Child Care In Covid Relief Measure,” Politico, 8/28/2020)


Many House Democrats Have Expressed A Desire For More Targeted Legislation Than Speaker Pelosi’s Bloated HEROES Act: ‘The HEROES Act Went Too Far… With A Bunch Of Political Wish List Things,’ ‘I Urge You To Bring Up A Simplified, Straightforward COVID-19 Relief Package’

REP. CINDY AXNE (D-IA): “As the House returns to Washington … I urge you to bring up a simplified, straightforward COVID-19 relief package. …  I implore you to show that the House is still committed to reaching a deal – and to allow us to lead once again – by passing a relief bill that will provide economic relief, protections against eviction and financial ruin, and funding for our schools, health centers, and critical industries.” (Rep. Axne, Letter to Speaker Pelosi, 8/19/2020)

  • AXNE: “I must insist that the next package does not include special favors and handouts. The Heroes Act … also included handouts that had nothing to do with helping Americans during this crisis. By including things like tax breaks that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy, $100 million for chartered fishing, expanded PPP eligibility for big oil and pharmaceutical lobbying groups, we fail to demonstrate the focus the American people ask of us. … We should pass a new piece of legislation that reflects our continued commitment to reaching a deal that will help Americans.” (Rep. Axne, Letter to Speaker Pelosi, 8/19/2020)

REP. MAX ROSE (D-NY): “I share the concerns that I’m hearing from my constituents: I’m pissed. I’m angry… At this point, it’s a middle finger to the American people.” (“House Democratic Freshmen In Tough Races Growing Agitated About Failure Of Stimulus Talks,” CNN, 8/11/2020)

REP. BEN McADAMS (D-UT): “As it stands now, we’ve already failed… I am frustrated we don’t have an agreement we can vote on already.” (“House Democratic Freshmen In Tough Races Growing Agitated About Failure Of Stimulus Talks,” CNN, 8/11/2020)

REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): “To me, no bill is not an option… And that’s not unique to this voice. I would argue that most members feel the same. The need is too great, the time too short and the risk of not doing so too severe.” (“House Democratic Freshmen In Tough Races Growing Agitated About Failure Of Stimulus Talks,” CNN, 8/11/2020)

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): “We all have a responsibility to get this done… This is not one of those issues that if we don’t get it done ... we can argue about it during the election.” (“House Democratic Freshmen In Tough Races Growing Agitated About Failure Of Stimulus Talks,” CNN, 8/11/2020)

“[M]embers of the Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging them to restart bipartisan negotiations on a fifth COVID-19 relief package to address the current public health and economic crisis. Additionally, the Blue Dogs urge leadership to include a set of priorities that have earned bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.” (Blue Dog Coalition, Press Release, 8/21/2020)

  • 21 MEMBERS OF THE BLUE DOG COALITION: “As the House prepares to vote this weekend on a bill to protect the United States Postal Service, we urge you to restart bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on a fifth COVID-19 relief package that is commensurate with the scale of this public health and economic crisis. Although there are meaningful differences between the HEROES Act and the HEALS Act, there is also considerable common ground. In an era of divided government, the reality is that only bipartisan solutions will deliver much-needed support, and that requires principled compromise by both parties. … The current stalemate is punishing families and destabilizing our economy. Congress must do all that it can to keep workers tethered to their jobs, assist the unemployed, support our health care workers and our health care system, and ensure that businesses who do right by their workers are given the necessary resources and protections to survive. We must keep negotiating, no matter how difficult. Inaction is not an option.” (Blue Dog Coalition, Letter to Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Hoyer, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer, 8/21/2020)
  • “The letter was signed by all members of Blue Dog Coalition leadership, Reps. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Lou Correa (CA-46), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), and Kurt Schrader (OR-05). Additionally, the following Blue Dog Coalition members signed the letter: Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Rep. Ed Case (HI-01), Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), Rep. Charlie Crist (FL-13), Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Rep. Joe Cunningham (SC-01), Rep. Jared Golden (ME-02), Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Rep. Kendra Horn (OK-05), Rep. Daniel Lipinski (IL-03), Rep. Ben McAdams (UT-04), Rep. Max Rose (NY-11), Rep. David Scott (GA-13), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02).” (Blue Dog Coalition, Press Release, 8/21/2020)


Rank-And-File House Members Were Frustrated That Pelosi Brought Members Back To Vote On Democrats’ Piecemeal Legislation Focused Entirely On The Post Office, But Not On Coronavirus And Economic Relief

ANONYMOUS HOUSE DEMOCRAT MEMBER: “Frankly, to return to D.C. and vote to protect the USPS from ruin without voting to protect people and businesses from further ruin would be inexcusable.” (“House Democrats Consider New Push On Coronavirus Relief,” NBC News, 8/18/2020)

REP. GIL CISNEROS (D-CA): “We do need to act, as well, on relief. … I think if we need to pass a bill that says, ‘This is what we’re willing to do,’ then I’m all for that… I think it’s a great idea as far as having them in place so we don’t have to come back and vote, so that things don’t run out.” (“Rank-And-File Dems Press Pelosi For More Votes On Coronavirus Aid,” Politico, 8/18/2020)

REP. ANTHONY BRINDISI (D-NY): “Yes, we need to save the post office, but we can’t forget about the real crisis many of our working families are facing… So let’s save the post office and work together to provide relief to struggling families, businesses and communities everywhere. Washington needs to stop the politics and get something done. Don’t send us home without it.” (“House Democrats Consider New Push On Coronavirus Relief,” NBC News, 8/18/2020)

REP. SUSIE LEE (D-NV): “I’d like to see us do something economic-related while we’re there… [the local economy is] on the brink of serious, serious collapse.” (“Rank-And-File Dems Press Pelosi For More Votes On Coronavirus Aid,” Politico, 8/18/2020)

117 HOUSE DEMOCRATS: “While rescuing the Postal Service is crucial, it is equally important that we provide a lifeline to the 30 million Americans who are relying on unemployment insurance. Therefore, we ask, as members return to Washington to address the crisis at the USPS, that the House consider legislation like the Worker Relief and Security Act (Beyer/Kilmer).” (117 House Democrats, Letter To Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer, 8/19/2020)


FLASHBACK: From The Moment Pelosi Jammed Through The HEROES Act, Many Of Her Own Members Rejected It, Calling Instead For ‘Targeted Relief That Can Become Law’ And To ‘Put Aside Proposals That Lack Bipartisan Public Support’ Because ‘We Should Not Be Spending Precious Time On One-Sided Solutions That Aren’t Going Anywhere’

REP. CINDY AXNE (D-IA): “I am deeply troubled by numerous provisions in this bill that could see large amounts of taxpayer dollars allocated to helping those who are not hurting at all. I could not in good conscience vote to accept this Washington gamesmanship, or vote to approve unrelated wastes of taxpayer dollars, while Iowa sees its COVID-19 case rates climbing and parts of my district become a national hotspot.” (Rep. Axne, Press Release, 5/15/2020)

REP. ABBY FINKENAUER (D-IA): “The next federal COVID-19 relief package must be focused on helping families, workers, small businesses and local governments. It needs bipartisan buy-in, and should not be tied up with unrelated provisions. I came to Washington to get things done, and this legislation only serves to push real relief further down the road…. I’m tired of Washington playing politics with issues that demand our attention, solutions, and action. (Rep. Finkenauer, Press Release, 5/15/2020)

REP. SHARICE DAVIDS (D-KS): “Solving these challenges will require members of Congress to work together on targeted relief that can become law and provide real help to those who are suffering. Unfortunately, the HEROES Act does not accomplish that goal … [T]he partisan nature and wide scope of this bill makes it doomed upon arrival in the Senate – only further delaying the aid that Kansans desperately need.” (Rep. Davids, Press Release, 5/15/2020)

REP. XOCHITL TORRES SMALL (D-NM): “COVID-19–and rebuilding our economy in the wake of it—is the greatest challenge our country has faced in over a decade. We need bipartisan solutions to overcome it. I will continue to fight for direct funding for states, local communities, and tribal governments, as well as hazard pay for our essential workers on the front lines. But over $1 trillion of this bill was spent elsewhere. Hard times call for strong priorities, and Congress should put aside partisan politics to rebuild through smart infrastructure investments.” (Rep. Torres Small, Press Release, 5/15/2020)

REP. KENDRA HORN (D-OK): “Messaging bills without bipartisan support are a disservice to the American people, especially during a time of crisis. This is not the time for partisan gamesmanship, this is the time to find common ground and deliver help where it is needed most. In response to COVID-19, our relief efforts must be targeted, timely, and transparent. The HEROES Act does not meet those standards. To deliver timely relief, we must put aside proposals that lack bipartisan public support and work to negotiate a legislative package that can pass both houses of Congress and earn the support of the White House…. I urge congressional leadership to put aside any desire to use this as a political opportunity and instead focus on getting results in a bipartisan and bicameral way.” (Rep. Horn, Press Release, 5/14/2020)

REP. CONOR LAMB (D-PA): “People in western Pennsylvania and all over the country have sacrificed a lot during this crisis. They expect us to put politics aside, work together, and focus on defeating the coronavirus. This bill is not focused, it was rushed to a vote too fast, and it doesn’t help us accomplish that core mission…. Partisan fights have never looked smaller. We need to go back to the negotiating table immediately and work on a bill that can actually pass and will actually help the people who desperately need it.” (Rep. Lamb, Press Release, 5/15/2020)

REP. SUSAN WILD (D-PA): “The HEROES Act, however, appears to lack that same expansive bipartisan support of past Coronavirus relief packages. Moreover, I am concerned about supporting a $3 trillion bill that in my view does not do enough to provide direct and immediate assistance to struggling families and that will almost surely not proceed to a vote in the Senate or to any realistic negotiations with our colleagues across the aisle…. Now is the time to bring our nation together around solutions that will improve the lives of Americans who are hurting, not engage in partisan gamesmanship, and that’s why I will vote against this legislation.” (Rep. Wild, Press Release, 5/15/2020)

REP. JOE CUNNINGHAM (D-SC): “This is Washington politics at its worst. While South Carolina families, small business owners, and workers are struggling, now is not the time to advance a partisan wish list or refuse to come to the negotiating table. At a time when our country is in real trouble, we should not be spending precious time on one-sided solutions that aren’t going anywhere…. Now it is time for both sides to go back to the negotiating table and deliver bipartisan results …” (Rep. Cunningham, Press Release, 5/15/2020)

REP. BEN McADAMS (D-UT): “This isn’t a plan, it’s a wish-list. At a time when thousands of people are sick, millions are out of work, and small businesses face bankruptcy, we should be laser-focused on a strategy that opens up business and gets people back to work while also addressing the public health crisis caused by this virus. Republicans and Democrats need to come together on a plan to put this crisis behind us and not waste time with party politics.” (Rep. McAdams, Press Release, 5/15/2020)

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): “This $3 trillion package and the previous relief bills would double federal spending for this year and spending of this scale requires careful consideration and input from all members, not just one party…. Unfortunately, there are many elements of the bill that are unrelated to addressing Americans’ most immediate needs associated with COVID-19, which distract from addressing our most urgent priorities during this pandemic.” (Rep. Luria, Press Release, 5/16/2020)

REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): “Unfortunately, many Members of Congress — including some in my own party — have decided to use this package as an opportunity to make political statements and propose a bill that goes far beyond pandemic relief and has no chance at becoming law, further delaying the help so many need. Therefore, I will respectfully vote against this bill…. At this time, we must come together to build a targeted, timely relief package that avoids partisan posturing and instead prioritizes combatting our nationwide public health emergency, addressing catastrophic unemployment rates, and protecting the security of the next generation.” (Rep. Spanberger, Press Release, 5/15/2020)



Related Issues: Education, Economy, Appropriations, COVID-19, Health Care, Small Business