The House passed a $3 trillion Democratic economic stimulus bill Friday that Republicans and President Donald Trump have already rejected and isn’t likely to trigger bipartisan negotiations any time soon.
The measure, passed 208-199, would give cash-strapped states and local governments more than $1 trillion while providing most Americans with a new round of $1,200 checks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it should be the basis of talks with the GOP-controlled Senate and White House, which have called for a “pause” to allow earlier coronavirus recovery spending to work.
Pelosi this week has repeatedly invoked Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who has said Congress will have to inject more fiscal stimulus into the economy to prevent a prolonged recession. The U.S. has more than 1.4 million coronavirus cases, and more than 86,000 have died.
But Republicans also cite the Fed chief, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying Powell hasn’t explicitly said how quickly Congress must act. He and other Republicans have dismissed the House Democrats’ bill as a liberal wish list and are using it to attack Democrats, whom polls give an increasing chance of holding the House and taking the Senate in November’s election.
“This is much more about political messaging than effective legislating,” Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said.
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GOP members said some provisions don’t belong in a virus bill, such as reductions in immigration enforcement, providing stimulus checks to undocumented immigrants, money for the troubled U.S. Postal Service and a national requirement to hold elections by mail.
Trump and Republican congressional leaders have acknowledged, however, that some sort of further economic stimulus will likely be necessary as the economy continues to shed jobs. The number of people filing for unemployment benefits since March now exceeds 36 million.
“Phase four is going to happen but it’s going to happen in a much better way for the American people,” Trump old reporters Friday. He said he holds leverage over Democrats in any future talks.
“We have all the cards because we have the cards of the American people. I know what they want,” the president said.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said he anticipates another bill eventually.