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House narrowly votes to advance HEROES Act: Little chance with Senate, POTUS

coronavirus politics
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The House voted 208-199 to pass the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion Democratic package that President Trump has signaled is “DOA” if it were to get through the Senate.

The legislation includes provisions for direct payments to families up to $6,000 per household, new payroll protection measures to keep 60 million workers connected with their paychecks and benefits, and extending weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January.

It also included nearly $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments.

“We cannot pause while so many families in our communities are struggling,” said Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., who voted in favor of the package. “We have a responsibility to do what is necessary now to protect the health and well-being of all of our communities. With the HEROES Act, House Democrats honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s heroes and meet the needs of the American people today and through the coronavirus crisis.”

Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., put out a statement before the vote detailing her opposition to the measure.

“Relief legislation must address the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as pave the path to economic recovery,” Luria said. “This bill does include many provisions I support, specifically it would provide much needed economic relief to states and localities, fix the Paycheck Protection Program to make it more flexible for small business owners, increase testing capacity, and fund nutrition and utility assistance for those most in need. Unfortunately, there are many elements of the bill that are unrelated to addressing Americans’ most immediate needs associated with COVID-19, which distract from addressing our most urgent priorities during this pandemic.

Another Virginia Democrat, Abigail Spanberger, also voted no.

“Since this crisis began, I’ve built bipartisan coalitions to advocate for the issues that matter most to the Seventh District — including direct funding for our counties, expanded high-speed internet access for our rural communities, and much-needed relief to our small businesses and individuals. These priorities mark a foundation for the House, Senate, and administration to find common ground,” Spanberger said. “At this time, we must come together to build a targeted, timely relief package that avoids partisan posturing and instead prioritizes combatting our nationwide public health emergency, addressing catastrophic unemployment rates, and protecting the security of the next generation.”

Northern Virginia Democrat Don Beyer joined McEachin on the yes side.

“The Heroes Act takes strong steps to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic devastation,” Beyer said. “It contains key provisions I sought, and I fully support it. This is the kind of far-reaching and forward-thinking approach that Congress must take to protect American lives and livelihoods.”

Virginia’s three House Republicans – Ben Cline, Morgan Griffith and Rob Wittman – were all on the no side.

“Instead of focusing on addressing the economic and health care challenges of the coronavirus, this legislation is an 1,800-page liberal wish-list, full of trillions of taxpayer dollars spent on programs entirely unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cline said. “The bill explodes the size and scope of the Federal Government and is nothing more than a political move by Speaker Pelosi to appease the left-wing faction of her caucus.”

“We must continue to address the immense problem before us: the coronavirus and the economic damage it has inflicted,” Griffith said. “I’ve supported the several bills Congress has already passed that, while not perfect, were focused on the problem at hand. H.R. 6800 shows that Speaker Pelosi has other priorities, and those priorities aren’t helping the American people during this crisis.”

“We need to go back to the drawing board and put together a package that will receive bipartisan support,” Wittman said. “I will continue to focus on getting Americans back to work and defeating this virus by incentivizing rehiring and removing regulatory barriers to job creation, protecting small businesses, and connecting our rural communities who lack high-speed internet access.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press