Good morning! Here’s how Cascadia’s Members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Friday, March 27th.
In the United States House of Representatives
APPROVING $2.2 TRILLION TO CONFRONT CORONAVIRUS: The House on March 27th approved on a voice vote a $2.2 trillion rescue package (H.R. 748) to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on U.S. workers, families, businesses and medical caregivers. In part, the bill would provide:
One-time non-taxable payments, delivered by mail or direct-deposit, of $1,200 to individuals with annual incomes up to $75,000 and $2,400 to couples earning up to $150,000, plus $500 per child. Gradually reduced payments would be made to individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000 and couples in the $150,000-to-$198,000 range. Higher earners are excluded from the benefit.
II. Unemployment Insurance
$250 billion to finance four months’ expanded unemployment insurance, under which those losing jobs because of the virus would receive $600 per week on top of their state’s base level of jobless pay. The $600 payments would be made available to gig economy workers, independent contractors, the self-employed and others ineligible for regular unemployment benefits in their state.
III. Small business loans
$350 billion in low- or no-interest loans through June 30th to enable businesses with fewer than five hundred employees to meet payroll and certain overhead costs including rent. The loans would be totally forgiven for companies agreeing to not lay off workers and rehire those already dismissed during the pandemic. So that the money is quickly infused into the economy, banks would conduct the lending and receive Treasury reimbursement of their expenditures.
IV. Loans for large firms
Loans bearing no more than two percent interest to companies with five hundred to 10,000 employees that agree not to send jobs overseas. The first six months would be interest-free, and repayment schedules would be delayed for six months.
V. Money for state, local, and tribal governments
$150 billion help state and local governments cover the cost of fighting the pandemic, with $8 billion allocated to tribal governments.
VI. Money for hospitals and the healthcare system
$130 billion to help hospitals, community health centers and nursing homes procure supplies and equipment and boost staffing levels, plus $1 billion for the Indian Health Service.
VII. Money for farmers
$50 billion for Department of Agriculture loan programs to benefit farmers and ranchers.
VIII. Money for the defense sector
$17 billion to companies including Boeing deemed vital to national security.
Supporter Kevin Brady, R‑Texas, said:
“For the larger and most distressed businesses, we provide loans knowing [their] survival is crucial to millions of American workers. These loans aren’t bailouts. They’re given with oversight and repayment to companies who did nothing wrong but suffered collateral damage as a result of this virus.”
Opponent Ken Buck, R‑Colorado, said “we are facing an unprecedented emergency, one tied directly to China’s nefarious actions. However, as President Trump said, we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself….We believe that the fight against the virus will take six-to-eight weeks, yet this bill spends money decades into the future.”
The House voted as a chamber to send the bill to the White House.
NPI EDITOR’S NOTE: Because no recorded vote was taken (the vote was done by voice), there is no roll call to share. We are unaware of any opposition to the bill from members of the Pacific Northwest’s House delegation.
In the United States Senate
MARSHALING $2.2 TRILLION AGAINST CORONAVIRUS: The Senate on March 25th passed, 96 for and none against, a bill (H.R. 748, above) that would marshal $2.2 trillion in coming months against the nationwide spread of the coronavirus. In addition to provisions described above, the bill would authorize $400 billion for loans and grants to large corporations, cities and states.
To receive the full benefit of these payments, companies could not reduce staffs by more than ten percent, weaken union contracts or use the money to boost executive compensation or finance stock buybacks or dividend payments.
For loans, these restrictions would be in force until the repayment date plus one year. The government would collateralize loans by obtaining equity shares in recipient companies. About $60 billion of the fund would go to the airline industry, with at least $25 billion used to pay salaries and protect hundreds of thousands of jobs in the air-passenger sector from planes to airports.
The Treasury Department, and by extension the White House, would choose recipients and be required to identify the winning companies to Congress within seven days and the public within fourteen days, with contract terms revealed.
The program would be overseen by a Treasury inspector general and a congressionally appointed five-person review board.
Companies controlled by Trump, Pence, cabinet members or members of Congress — or the children, spouses or in-laws of those officials — are ineligible to benefit from the $400 billion rescue fund and other payments in the bill.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the House.
Voting Aye (2):
Voting Aye (2):
Voting Aye (2):
Cascadia total: 6 aye votes
DECLINING TO TRIM JOBLESS BENEFITS: Voting 48–48, the Senate on March 25th defeated a Republican-sponsored amendment to H.R. 748 (the CARES Act, above) that sought to prohibit laid-off workers from temporarily receiving unemployment payments in excess of their salary. The bill would allow jobless individuals to receive, over four months, $600 per week on top of their state’s standard benefit. In states with relatively high benefits, the add-on could result in individuals receiving total payments over four months a few thousand dollars higher than their likely salary over the same period.
Rick Scott, R‑Florida, said unemployment insurance is “the best and quickest way to get money to people who need it most. But we should not create a system where benefits are higher than their salary. We cannot pay people more to not work than to work.”
Richard Durbin, D‑Illinois, the Democratic Whip, said: “When less than half of the people in America have $400 in their savings, the notion that we might end up giving people another $1,000 or $2,000 at the end of four months, to me, is not something we ought to be ashamed of or run away from.”
A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.
Voting Aye (2):
Voting Nay (2):
Voting Nay (2):
Cascadia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes
Key votes ahead
The House schedule for the week of March 30th was to be announced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Senate will be in recess.
Editor’s Note: The information in NPI’s weekly How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted feature is provided by Voterama in Congress, a service of Thomas Voting Reports. All rights are reserved. Reproduction of this post is not permitted, not even with attribution. Use the permanent link to this post to share it… thanks!
© 2020 Thomas Voting Reports.