While the House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion dollar coronavirus spending bill as a sequel to the CARES Act, there was no way the largest spending bill in history would pass in the Senate and be signed by the White House. But as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been playing politics for weeks with the White House with no deal made after numerous meetings, members of her own party are fed up with the inability for the highest ranking member in the House to get anything done. In a surprise break from ranks, the Democrat moderates have joined with Republican moderates as they introduced their own spending bill with a much lower price tag, and the White House has already hinted they may sign it into law.
The Problem Solvers Caucus served a reminder to the American people that compromise is possible on Capitol Hill if you put politics aside. The bill does just that on contested issues, such as unemployment insurance. While the Democrats wanted to continue the $600 per week unemployment insurance, and Republicans wanted to drop it to $300 per week, the bill proposed a $450 per week extension for eight weeks that then converts to either $600 per week or 100% of wages depending on which amount is lower. The bill also includes a $1200 one time stimulus payment in addition to a $500 per child payment. Furthermore, the bill will give $500 billion to local and state governments, a compromise between the Democrat’s $915 billion ask and the Republicans $150 billion.
The bill also includes funding for COVID-19 testing, schools, and small business aid. But most importantly, the bill will respond to COVID metrics, reducing aid if the virus numbers improve, or continuing the aid if the virus continues.
Why this matters: Pelosi has been holding the coronavirus cards close to her chest, but it is at the detriment to her moderate members in Congress who are facing tough elections in November. Introducing their own legislation is a sort of slap in the face to Pelosi for her inability to do what they did, which is find areas for compromise. Pelosi’s large asks ended up having negative repercussions for her party, as Americans are forced out of work and in desperate need for relief. Furthermore, the White House’s willingness to accept the bill shows an ability to rise above partisanship with the purpose to help the American people. For a leader of a party, this is another slap in the face as her own members cross the aisle for the goal of achieving meaningful results. This is a point that frustrates many Americans across the country about Washington, in how politicians care more about the game than they do the people. If this bill passes, it will be a breath of fresh air for Americans, but a serious insult to the Speaker of the House.