WASHINGTON - Democrats pushed Congress’ biggest coronavirus relief bill yet toward expected House passage Friday, a $3 trillion behemoth they said a beleaguered country badly needs but Republicans called a bloated election-year wish list.
Democratic leaders were pressing ahead despite grumbling from party moderates leery of the measure’s massive price tag and liberals who wanted bolder steps, like money to cover workers’ salaries. The measure cleared an early procedural hurdle 207-199 with 14 Democrats voting in opposition, an unusually high number of “no” votes but small enough to suggest that leadership had things under control.
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New York stands to gain a substantial amount of money in the form of $63 billion with money allocated for preparation, COVID-19 testing, schools, food assistance programs, and billions set aside to help New York’s $60 billion COVID-induced budget deficit.
“It’s so important for the state of New York. This is the most important bill that we’ve done so far when it comes to New York, New York City, Long Island, being the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-New York.
The bill also contains approximately $3.9 billion for the budget-crunched MTA, and repeals the $10,000 SALT Cap.
Gov. Cuomo praised the bill this week saying it was good for the state.
The bill was sure to go nowhere in the GOP-led Senate, let alone reach President Donald Trump’s desk, where a promised veto awaited.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized senate Republicans' stance that they are taking a pause before considering further legislation to address the pandemic.
Republicans criticized the bill as being more partisan than practical. “I’m a no on this package,” said Rep. Tom Reed, R-New York. “There are about 20 different items in here that aren’t related to the virus, aren’t related to the emergency, and it’s just designed to pacify partisan politics, and set up a vote for the election in November.”
"Do you think this virus is taking a pause? Do you think that the rent takes a pause? Do you think that putting food on the table or the hunger that comes if you can't, takes a pause?" Pelosi said.
Pelosi has said the legislation is Democrats’ opening offer in what is expected to blossom into negotiations with the White House and congressional leaders of both parties.
“It’s definitely a benchmark for negotiations, and it is sending a message of what we’re for,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York. “It’s very important to show what we would fund if we have the authority to do so, and so this is the starting point for negations with the Senate.”