WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — The House is poised to pass a fifth coronavirus relief bill Friday that will send money to state and local governments, more direct payments to individuals and families, and hazard pay to those on the front lines of the pandemic.
It will add $3 trillion to what Congress is spending to fight the virus.
Unlike previous bills, this one has little support from Republicans, and even some Democrats plan on voting no.
“Quit trying to be Queen of the House and start being Speaker of the House,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-AR, of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Try to start leading instead of pushing junk like this through.”
Westerman and his GOP colleagues argue the House Democrats’ legislation goes beyond the crisis.
“This is a bill that will fundamentally change our federal elections,” said Rep. Michael Guest, R-MS. “It is a bill that bails out private pensions. It is a bill that lets criminals out of jail. It is a bill that gives additional rights and payments to illegal aliens.”
But Democrats, like Rep. Kathy Castor, D-FL, say Americans desperately need the legislation to support state and local governments, ramp up testing and receive another round of direct cash payments.
“To save people’s lives and save their livelihoods,” Castor said.
This round of relief doubles the amount of spending Congress has approved to fight the virus.
Rep. Tim Burchett, R-TN, said Speaker Pelosi is just using the bill to send a message.
“It’s just a complete waste of time,” Burchett said. “She’s just trying to play political games.”
But Rep. Alma Adams, D-NC, said the Republican-controlled Senate played the same game the last time around.
“After you do your individual bills, then you negotiate so there’s nothing different really about this process,” Adams said.
The Senate has promised the $3 trillion plan will be dead on arrival, and President Trump has threatened a veto.
Lawmakers are also voting on a rule change to allow remote committee hearings and voting.
“We’re just protecting our members, protecting their loved ones and protecting their constituents,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-TN.
But Republicans argue if they’re making other Americans show up for work, they should lead by example.
Members of Congress have missed votes like this because they have tested positive for coronavirus, self-quarantined out of precaution or felt unsafe coming in due to their health conditions.