Washington – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be kept from holding a vote on a $3 billion stimulus bill Friday by Democratic progressives who are upset the massive legislation left out a provision promoted by Sen. Richard Blumenthal that would allow the federal government to subsidize the pay of workers whose jobs are in danger.
Since Republicans have largely rejected the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act,” or HEROES Act, Pelosi needs nearly every Democratic vote to pass the legislation in the U.S. House.
But Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, are seeking to postpone any vote until next week so that lawmakers can fully digest the bill and potentially push for changes.
Jayapal and other House progressives want their “Paycheck Security Act,” to be included. It would pay a company’s payroll cost, up to $100,000 per employee who has been laid off or furloughed, if a business can demonstrate that it has suffered a 20 percent month-over-month drop in revenue.
Blumenthal, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and two other Democrats, Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama, are the Senate sponsors of the Paycheck Security Act. Their legislation would fund a portion of a company’s payroll costs, up to $90,000 per worker.
Blumenthal said he is “obviously disappointed” the HEROES Act “ doesn’t include several legislative proposals that I believe are vitally necessary – especially the Paycheck Security Act and the CORE Act,” a bill that aims to ensure stronger oversight and transparency in the federal government’s response to COVID-19 crisis.
“I firmly believe that the Paycheck Security Act, which is based on a concept publicly supported by conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats, is an idea whose time has come,” Blumenthal said.” I’m also going to continue fighting for a broad, comprehensive set of oversight and transparency measures.”
The HEROES Act includes $850 billion in assistance to state and local governments, $200 billion in hazard pay for front-line health care workers and other essential workers — including Connecticut’s shipbuilders — forgiveness of student debt and increases in Medicaid and Medicare payments to providers.
It would also provide a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans, raising the $500 per child payment in the last round of checks to $1,200 and capping family benefits at $6,000.
The Democratic House bill would also extend the weekly $600 federal unemployment benefits through Jan. 31 of next year and suspend, for two years, the $10,000 cap on the deductibility of state and local income taxes on federal tax forms.
But White House officials and Republican congressional leaders say they want to first assess the partial reopening of the economy before they pass another stimulus package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky has called for a “pause” to see which federal stimulus programs established in previous legislation are working, and which aren’t.