The House approved the $1.9 Trillion pandemic relief package early morning last Saturday in a 219 to 212 vote. The voting happened at around 2 a.m. ET and not a single Republican House representative voted for the bill.
However, the latest bill passed in the house has only 9% funding that is related to COVID-19 and about 1% of the $1.9 Trillion is focused on testing, vaccinations, and vaccine development.
It's after 2 a.m. in Washington, where the House only just concluded votes on H.R. 1319. Although @HouseDemocrats have billed this massive budget reconciliation package as #coronavirus relief, a liberal wish list would be a much better description.
— Rep. Tom Cole (@TomColeOK04) February 27, 2021
There were two Democrats who voted against the bill. One is Rep. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.
In order to defend his vote, Golden issued a statement saying, “During challenging times, the country needs its elected leaders to work together to meet the most urgent needs in their communities.”
Golden added, “This bill addresses urgent needs, and then buries them under a mountain of unnecessary or untimely spending.”
— Michael Shepherd (@mikeshepherdME) February 27, 2021
Around two hours before the voting session, House Minority leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) ridiculed the proposal, calling it “Pelosi’s Payoff Bill.”
McCarthy further described the legislation as “Democrats’ costly, corrupt and liberal spending package.” One that the lawmaker claimed, signified, “The Swamp is back.”
McCarthy also added, “Congress won’t actually vote on this bill until 2 a.m. Saturday.” He continued, “Why? Because Democrats are so embarrassed by all the non-COVID waste in this bill that they are jamming it through in the dead of night.
“We ran the numbers,” McCarthy added. “The amount of money that actually goes to defeating the virus is less than 9 percent – Less than 9 percent! So don’t call it a rescue bill. Don’t call it a relief bill. Call it the Pelosi Payoff.”
"We ran the numbers," McCarthy added. "The amount of money that actually goes to defeating the virus is less than 9 percent – Less than 9 percent! So don’t call it a rescue bill. Don’t call it a relief bill. Call it the Pelosi Payoff." https://t.co/saowXN5T4f
— atasteofcreole (@atasteofcreole) February 27, 2021
The vast portion of the bill or nearly 90% of it was allotted for portions that are completely unrelated to the pandemic.
For instance, $100 million is set aside to fund an underground rail project in Silicon Valley, which is located just outside of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district. $1.5 billion plus is also set aside for Amtrak, which as of the moment, still has $1 billion unspent relief funds at its disposal.
There was also $135 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $86 billion bailouts for chronically mismanaged multi-employer pension plans, $50 million for the EPA’s environmental justice grants, a $35 billion influx for Obamacare, and $12 billion for foreign aid, the list goes on.
However, one of the most troubling part of the bill is the hidden provision to increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which even some Democrats have lately opposed.
Pres. Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package is expected to head to the House floor on Friday with a $15 minimum wage provision.
Congress is now waiting for the Senate parliamentarian to rule on whether the provision can be included in their version of the bill. pic.twitter.com/W7W6DqadSF
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) February 25, 2021
Many Republican lawmakers particularly objected to Democrats’ efforts to include the $15 an hour minimum wage provision as part of the bill saying that it would hurt businesses and would only cost more jobs.
The wage hike also attracts a move to increased consumer prices, damages small businesses and family farms in New York, and strike lesser-skilled workers across the 22nd District. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office also found that the provision would cost the economy 1.4 million jobs.
Meanwhile, shortly before midnight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the $1.9 Trillion bill as she gives remarks on the House floor. She also declared the $15 minimum wage a goal that they would achieve one way or another.
Pelosi said, “It is inevitable to all of us, the $15 minimum wage will be achieved.” She continued, “even if it is inconceivable to some, it is inevitable to us – and we will work diligently to shorten the distance between the inevitable and the inconceivable.”