House hands over the relief bill and sends it to Trump

Mar 27, 2020 10:15 PM ET

The house passed a $ 2 trillion corona virus bill on Friday, sending the unprecedented measure to President Donald Trump’s desk after trying to block efforts to delay the passage.

The board approved what is believed to be the largest spending package in US history by voting, which simply measures whether more lawmakers call “yes” or “no” to support it. MP Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Tried to force a full yes or no vote on the measure, which could have delayed their adoption by hours. Members of the irritated house rushed back to Washington in cars and almost empty planes to end his efforts, and some ripped him out because he risked their safety. Trump called him a “third-class grandstander”; and said he should be excluded from the Republican Party.

The plan, which included one-off payments to individuals, strengthening unemployment insurance, additional health finance, and loans and grants to companies to prevent layoffs, was unanimously adopted by the Senate on Wednesday evening. House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi had described the bill as “mitigating” the destruction of the pandemic and predicted that Congress would develop further plans to support “recovery”.

Trump has promised to sign the legislation “immediately”. While it is unclear how quickly the government will spend part of the money on increased unemployment benefits and small business loans, the White House and Congress leaders have announced that some people will receive direct payments of up to $ 1,200 within three weeks.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signs the bill after the House of Representatives passed a $ 2 trillion bill at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on March 27, 2020.

The urge to adopt the proposal came a day after the data showed that unemployment claims rose to a record 3.3 million last week as companies across the country were shut down to slow the spread of the disease . Hospitals, particularly in devastated New York, have asked for more resources as they struggle to keep up with the rush of coronavirus patients.

According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 92,000 coronavirus cases in the United States, most of them worldwide. At least 1,380 deaths in the United States have been linked to COVID-19.

The moments before Friday’s vote highlighted the risks of the outbreak and the unconventional tactics Congress used to pass recent disease-fighting laws. When representatives were called into the chamber, the heads of state and government asked them to use “appropriate social distancing practices”.

House leaders gathered the majority of members to prevent Massie from requesting a traditional written vote on legislation. Representatives sat in the gallery, which was normally open to the public to widen the distance between them.

The chairman of the chamber, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., Decided to pass legislation by voting. Massie then asked for a complete yes and no vote. The leaders of the house wanted to avoid this result. It would have forced lawmakers to speak in groups of 30 to avoid a crowd, to hold a vote that could have delayed the transition by hours.

With his request, the libertarian massie said he wanted to ensure that “our republic does not die in an empty chamber by unanimous consent”. He argued that the house had no quorum or majority of the members present. Brown found that this was the case, and the bill was largely passed by vote.

In an interview with a Kentucky radio station on Thursday, Massie signaled that he would reject the bill because of its impact on US government debt, the Louisville-based Courier Journal said.

“Not much,” Massie later tweeted Thursday morning.

After the vote, the house was adjourned until March 31. The Senate has no scheduled further voting until April 20, though Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the chamber could be convened if further action is needed.

Pelosi made detailed comments prior to Friday’s vote while waiting for enough members to speak. She joked: “The earlier you come, the shorter my comments will be.”

The California Democrat emphasized that “this cannot be our final account” to respond to the crisis. It has set priorities such as larger direct payments, expanded family and sick leave entitlement, and more government grants.

In conclusion, Pelosi thanked the front workers who risked their safety in the fight against the outbreak.

“Congress must show the same courage, resilience and strength … to put families and workers first,” she said.

Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Welcomed the action of the house. But he made the Trump administration obliged to use the money, including a $ 500 billion pool for corporate, state, and municipal loans that effectively fueled democratic concerns.

“What Congress cannot do is implement these well-designed programs. Now it is up to President Trump to implement them quickly, effectively, and in the way they were designed to help the American people,” he said in a statement. “We have made sure that the federal government has the resources and tools they need to achieve this, and we will be watching President Trump minute by minute to make sure that he and his administration are doing it right.”

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