House Democrats narrowly passed their own $2.2 trillion stimulus bill on Thursday night despite ongoing negotiations with Republicans and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
The legislation, dubbed the HEROES Act 2.0, is a trimmed-down version of the roughly $3 trillion HEROES Act passed in May. At the time, Republicans blocked the legislation—which they called a “wish list”—due to its high price tag.
The new version, approved by the chamber in a 214-207 vote, includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, extended $600 weekly unemployment benefits, $436 billion in emergency aid for state and local governments, $225 billion for schools and childcare, Paycheck Protection Program funding, as well as assistance for airlines and the restaurant industry. 18 Democrats voted against the measure.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated the new package would fail in the Senate. The GOP, who want a smaller bill, recently proposed a roughly $500 billion package, about half the figure of their previously proposed $1 trillion HEALS Act. “We’re very, very far apart,” McConnell said. “The thought that Senate Republicans would jump up to $2.2 trillion is outlandish.”
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said the HEROES Act was “no better than the last bill that failed the American people,” and criticized the bill for including funding for undocumented immigrants.
As Americans grow frustrated with the stalled-deal, lawmakers have blamed each other along partisan lines for their failure to pass another package amid the pandemic. Democrats say the GOP isn’t providing sufficient funds and Republicans have accused the Democrats of using the coronavirus to further their political agenda.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that she was “optimistic” that the months-long stimulus deadlock will end with an agreement being stuck. She has, however, also said that both sides of the political aisle still “have a dollars debate” and “values debate” to conquer. When asked about the chances of a deal on Thursday, Pelosi said, “I don’t know. It just depends. We’ll see.”
Hours before the House vote, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the Trump administration offered $1.6 trillion to Pelosi on Wednesday. Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said the Speaker and Mnuchin held negotiations for about 50 minutes today and ended talks with “distance on key areas.”
It is unclear whether Democrats would concede another $600 billion—so far, Pelosi has resisted—but one thing the two parties have agreed on is the inclusion of another round of stimulus checks.
As Congress prepares to adjourn, Pelosi has stressed the urgency to pass a deal soon. “I never say this is the last chance until Election Day, although that’s 33 days away,” she said.
Newsweek reached out to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for comment.
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