Politics & Policy

Pelosi’s $3 Trillion Relief Bill Divides Her Caucus ahead of Friday Vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) adjust her protective face mask during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., May 7, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill released by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) earlier this week has received pushback from both moderate and progressive Democratic lawmakers.

Criticism came from Representative Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.), a former CIA officer who is the first Democrat to be elected to Virginia’s 7th congressional district in 38 years. Spanberger announced her opposition to the bill, known as the HEROES Act, on Friday.

“I have a responsibility to be honest with the people of Central Virginia, including those who are suffering, sick, losing their jobs, or losing their businesses,” Spanberger said in a statement. “Unfortunately, many Members of Congress–including some in my own party–have decided to use this package as an opportunity to make political statements…and has no chance at becoming law, further delaying the help so many need.”

The HEROES Act is expected to pass the House on Friday despite the concerns of many rank and file Democrats. While the legislation allocates funding for state and local governments as well as coronavirus testing and contact tracing, several provisions are unrelated to the pandemic. One provision of the bill would require federal banking regulators to regularly report on “the availability of access to financial services for minority-owned and women-owned cannabis-related legitimate businesses.”

Representative Joe Cunningham (D., S.C.), the first Democrat to represent the state’s 1st congressional district since 1981, also announced on Friday that he would not vote for the bill.

“This is Washington politics at its worst. While South Carolina families, small business owners, and workers are struggling, now is not the time to advance a partisan wish list or refuse to come to the negotiating table,” Cunningham said in a statement.

Another freshman moderate elected in a longtime Republican district, Representative Elissa Slotkin (D., Mich.), said on Thursday that she wasn’t sure whether the HEROES Act would be effective.

“What I wanted to see in this package is sticking to the very specific emergency need that the country has,” Slotkin told CNN. “There’s money for testing, like really critical things, and then there are some things that I don’t feel like had to be in the bill, and what I’m trying to decide is does the net positive outweigh that negative.”

Progressive representative Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) expressed dismay on Wednesday that her proposal for the federal government to pay workers’ salaries during the pandemic was not included in the bill. Jayapal is calling on the government to pay all salaries of up to $100,000 for up to three months for workers who have been laid off.

Jayapal “continues to be concerned that the current version of the package fails to meet the scale of this crisis, one that has seen 36 million Americans lose their jobs and at least 27 million lose their health care,” read a statement from the representative’s office.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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