The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package approved by the Senate will breeze through the House in a “strong, bipartisan” vote on Friday, according to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meaning President Donald Trump will likely be able to sign the enormous bill into law by the weekend.
“We will have a victory tomorrow for America’s workers,” Pelosi, who was celebrating her 80th birthday, told reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. “We’ll bring the bill to the floor. It will pass. It will pass with strong, bipartisan support.”
The House is expected to consider the economic stimulus measure — the largest one in American history by far — via voice vote Friday morning.
The unprecedented relief legislation was approved by the Senate in a rare 96-0 vote shortly before midnight Wednesday.
Pelosi praised Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other Democrats in the upper chamber for ensuring the bill expanded unemployment benefits and provided oversight of a $500 billion pot of subsidized loans for industries hemorrhaging cash because of the virus.
However, the speaker also scorched Senate Republicans for voting in favor of a failed amendment that would have chipped away at unemployment benefits for workers whose lives have been upended by the fast-spreading virus.
“Forty-nine Republicans last night voted in the Senate to deprive those on unemployment insurance of the additional $600 a week. How could it be that in this time of stress and strain and uncertainty … that they would vote that way?” Pelosi said. “It’s not about workers first.”
Republicans argued the beefed-up unemployment benefits would incentivize layoffs — a premise Democrats called bizarre since workers are only eligible for the assistance if they’re let go, not if they leave on their own volition.
Trump has vowed to sign the historic relief bill “immediately” once it reaches his desk.
Though she described the $2.2 trillion bill as critical, Pelosi made clear she’s already looking ahead to another relief measure, as the virus continues to claim more American lives by the day.
The speaker said the bill her chamber will pass Friday doesn’t do enough to prop up food assistance programs. She also said she wants legislation to make sure all coronavirus treatment is free of charge, as opposed to just free testing, which is currently the case.
Lastly, Pelosi said Congress has ways to go in helping out state governments whose budgets have been depleted by the virus.
“We’re not doing enough for state and local governments,” she said.
Pelosi’s call for state and local government relief is likely to be embraced by New York Gov. Cuomo, who’s furious that the $2 trillion package doesn’t include more cash for New York, which is experiencing the worst outbreak in the country.
“I believe that they did fail to meet the governmental need,” Cuomo said of the stimulus legislation during a briefing in Albany on Thursday, adding Empire State governments will likely suffer budget shortfalls topping $15 billion because of the virus. “I’m disappointed. … I find it irresponsible.”
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