House advances $1.9T COVID-19 relief bill, 2 Democrats vote against, no Republican support

Coronavirus Stimulus

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — While the House approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus pandemic aid bill that was championed by President Joe Biden, all but two Democrats voted for the massive stimulus package.

Early Saturday morning, Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the only two lawmakers to cross party lines, joining 210 Republicans to vote against the package that would send $1,400 checks to most Americans and hundreds of billions more to help open schools, revive struggling businesses and provide financial support to state and local governments. The legislation that ultimately passed 219-212.

Golden said he believes the appropriations process is taking too long, while Schrader has called for a more targeted bill.

In a statement shared on his Twitter account Saturday, Golden said, “In reviewing the bill in its full scope, less than 20 percent of the total spending addresses core COVID challenges that are immediately pressing: funding for vaccine distribution and testing, and emergency federal unemployment programs.”

In an interview, Schrader said he feels the country is at a different point in the crisis, adding that he feels the decision to increase stimulus check from $600 to $1,400 was not well thought out.

Yet no Republican in Washington voted to support the sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus package. They argue that the bill is not focused enough on the pandemic. But with near-unanimous Democratic support, the measure could still become law.

“The swamp is back,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said shortly before the final vote, decrying what he called extraordinary “non-COVID waste” and a “blue state bailout.”

“Most states are not in financial distress,” McCarthy said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, traditionally a Republican ally, declined to support or oppose the Republican position. Neil Bradley, the chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, said there is a need for a rescue package that is “targeted, timely and temporary.”

“There’s a lot to like in the plan,” Bradley told The Associated Press. “But there’s also a whole lot of elements that fail the test of targeted and timely and temporary.”

The chamber, like congressional Republicans, opposes Democratic efforts to boost the federal minimum wage to $15 hourly by 2025 from its current $7.25 floor. The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the progressive priority could not be included in the Senate version of the bill, although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is considering a provision that would penalize large companies that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour.

Whether the minimum wage provision is included or not, Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the final package.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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