Second stimulus package leads to battle in Washington

Courtesy+of+KP+Tripathi+via+flickr

KP Tripathi

Courtesy of KP Tripathi via flickr

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that he will “reject” a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that Democrats say will support Americans who are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Heroes Act, passed by the House of Representatives a 214-207 vote on Oct. 1, includes additional funds for reopening schools, improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program, funds for nationwide COVID-19 testing and contact tracing and a second round of $1,200 direct payments to taxpayers. 

While the House already voted on the original version of the Heroes Act in May, House Democrats were unable to reach a deal with Senate Republicans to pass it, as Republicans argued that it was too expensive. This second version of the bill is less expensive, however, Trump said he will shoot it down. 

“We made a very generous offer of $1.6 Trillion Dollars and, as usual, [Speaker Nancy Pelosi] is not negotiating in good faith,” the tweet said. “I am rejecting their request, and looking to the future of our Country.”

Trump also tweeted later Monday night that “If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?”

Pelosi responded with a statement claiming that Trump was putting himself in front of the needs of the country. 

“Once again, President Trump showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress,” Pelosi said. “Walking away from coronavirus talks demonstrates that President Trump is unwilling to crush the virus, as is required by the Heroes Act.”

Democrats say that this bill is vital to the well-being of the nation during the ongoing pandemic, and they originally hoped to pass it before the November election. 

“The $2.2 trillion legislation protects lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy,” according to a statement from the House Appropriations Committee.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey spoke on the importance of passing the bill in a speech on the House floor before the vote.

“The American people cannot afford to wait until next year for action, so Democrats are making good on our offer to compromise,” said Lowey “This updated version of The Heroes Act seeks to meet Republicans halfway, while addressing needs that have grown since May.”

Republicans are adamant that Democrats are at fault for the COVID-19 relief holdup. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claims that the Senate could have passed a stimulus package weeks ago, but that the democratic minority is holding it up. 

“If Senate Democrats were half as concerned as they say about American families’ healthcare, they would not have filibustered a multi-hundred-billion-dollar proposal for more coronavirus relief just a few weeks ago,” said McConnell in a speech on the senate floor on Sept. 30.

The legislation includes an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program for people who have lost their jobs or lost hours due to COVID-19. It would provide relief specifically to the airline industry, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Many of these jobs were protected by provisions in the CARES Act, however these funds expired on Oct.1. 

Both United and American Airlines announced that they have sent furlough notices to a total of 32,000 employees that they can no longer afford to keep on payroll. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said that these furloughed workers could be back on the payroll soon if the CARES Act is extended or if a new federal assistance deal is reached.

“I spoke late today with the Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin,” Parker said in a letter to employees on Sept. 30. “He informed me that the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are continuing to negotiate on a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package that would include an extension of the PSP and it is possible they could reach an agreement in the coming days.”