House passes $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package

11 months ago 40
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Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The House on Thursday voted to pass a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill while both parties in Congress and the Trump administration remain divided on what the package should include.

The Democrat-led House voted 214-207 mostly along party lines to pass the measure Thursday night. Eighteen Democrats joined Republicans in their opposition to the bill.

"I urge President Trump and Senate Republicans to work with us to reach bipartisan agreement without further delay," House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said in an appeal to fellow lawmakers and the administration. "Millions of American families, workers and small business owners are looking to Congress for help. Let us come together, as we have before, to help Americans respond to the crisis of COVID-19."

The measure is an update to the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act that passed in the House in May but never made it to the Senate floor.

It includes $600 in weekly unemployment benefits through January and a second round of $1,200 payments mailed to taxpayers as well as a $500 check for dependents. It also sets aside $182 billion for grade schools, $39 billion for post-secondary institutions and $57 billion for childcare support, and would add funds to the Paycheck Protection Program.

It is not expected to move beyond the House as Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has opposed the legislation, proposing a narrower measure that was blocked by Democrats.

"Anything above $1 trillion would be difficult," said Sen. Chuck Grassley of R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate finance committee. "There's a real revulsion among Republicans to going above $1 trillion and even $1 trillion is real difficult."

Thursday's vote comes one day after a scheduled vote was postponed to allow extended negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The two emerged from a 90-minute meeting on Wednesday after which Mnuchin said they failed to reach an agreement. Pelosi said they found areas where "we are seeking further clarification."

Prior to Thursday's vote Pelosi said she was hopeful to reach an agreement but negotiations were "still way off" in terms of agreeing on funding for state and local governments, adding Democrats continued to "have concerns about a sufficient amount of money to address the unemployment insurance needs of the American people."

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