Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says the House of Representatives will finally take up the bipartisan Senate coronavirus relief bill on Friday, more than 24 hours after the measure passed the Senate, 96-0. In a press conference Thurdsay morning, however, she says she is still unsatisfied with the bill and that a fourth coronavirus relief package may be necessary.
Both Pelosi and House majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) say the House will hold debate on the bill Friday morning and anticipate it will pass on a “voice vote” despite vocal opposition from progressive House Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) who, Wednesday, threatened to derail the legislation by forcing the House to do an in-person, roll call vote.
“In order to protect the safety of Members and staff and prevent further spread of COVID-19 through Members’ travel, the Republican Leader and I expect that the House vote on final passage will be done by voice vote,” Hoyer wrote in a memo to colleagues sent Thursday night. “Members who want to come to the House Floor to debate this bill will be able to do so.”
If House members want to object to the bill, but cannot make it the the floor of the House, there will be a digital option.
“In addition, we are working to ensure that those who are unable to return to Washington may express their views on this legislation remotely. My office will send out information tomorrow with those details,” Hoyer said.
Pelosi also warned objectors like Ocasio-Cortez, that forcing a roll call vote — which any Member of Congress has the power to do when a voice vote is on the table — would carry with it consequences, and would not delay voting or force a further round of negotiations.
“If somebody calls for a recorded vote, we have options. And then once they know we have options, they probably won’t call for it,” Pelosi said in a press conference Wednesday night, after the bill passed the Senate.
“We will have a victory tomorrow for America’s workers,” Pelosi added. “If somebody has a different point of view, they can put it in the record.”
The House is taking an additional 24 hours to review the Senate’s legislation, likely because House Democratic leaders need to head off objections from House progressives, who have pushed for a “just stimulus” that provides for direct payments to workers but holds back on any aid to businesses. Ocasio-Cortez, over the last week, has said she would push for a bill that includes a student loan bailout, a mass release of prisoners, and a moratorium on evictions. Other progressives have mentioned similar ideas. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) demanded that any stimulus bill include an “overhaul” of the United States’ healthcare system.
In order to head off the complaints, Pelosi announced Thursday that the House would begin working on a fourth coronavirus relief bill — this one likely designed to press through progressive measures excised from the Senate’s bipartisan agreement or those included in Pelosi’s 1,400-page House relief package that went largely ignored after public outcry.
“As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressed confidence Thursday that her chamber will pass the third coronavirus relief bill on Friday, she’s already focused on writing a fourth phase of aid and suggested that in a future measure, Congress might consider providing more direct payments to Americans,” NBC News reported Thursday.