A set of $100 bills
A set of $100 bills

Though it faces slim chances of pass­ing the Mitch McConnell-con­trolled Sen­ate, the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives today nev­er­the­less vot­ed to approve leg­is­la­tion that would empow­er the Trea­sury Depart­ment to send most Amer­i­can fam­i­lies COVID-19 recov­ery pay­ments total­ing $2,000, instead of the $600 autho­rized by the fis­cal mega­bill Con­gress agreed to last week.

The vote on final pas­sage was two hun­dred and sev­en­ty-five to one hun­dred and thir­ty-four, with twen­ty-one not vot­ing (all Republicans!).

The pas­sage of the CASH Act was over­whelm­ing, with all Demo­c­ra­t­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tives vot­ing aye save for two. They were joined by forty-four Repub­li­cans, includ­ing Wash­ing­ton State’s Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler and Ore­gon’s Greg Walden. (Cas­ca­di­a’s oth­er Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tives vot­ed nay.)

The House and the Pres­i­dent are in agree­ment: we must deliv­er $2,000 checks to Amer­i­can fam­i­lies strug­gling this Hol­i­day Sea­son. The House just passed the #CASHAct — it’s time for the Sen­ate to do the same,” Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi declared in a tweet fol­low­ing the suc­cess­ful vote.

Pelosi had vowed last week to hold a vote on the CASH Act after Don­ald Trump threat­ened not to sign the fis­cal mega­bill, say­ing that he want­ed $2,000 pay­ments instead of $600 ones. Trump’s tantrum caught a large num­ber of Repub­li­cans off guard, includ­ing a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of peo­ple with­in in his own regime, and result­ed in a lot of grum­bling, much of it pub­licly restrained.

Democ­rats, on the oth­er hand, saw an oppor­tu­ni­ty. While they also called for the fis­cal mega­bill to be signed, they moved swift­ly to point out that they had cham­pi­oned larg­er direct pay­ments to Amer­i­cans dur­ing the nego­ti­a­tions over the lat­est, McConnell-delayed COVID-19 relief package.

“Repub­li­cans repeat­ed­ly refused to say what amount the Pres­i­dent want­ed for direct checks,” Pelosi not­ed fol­low­ing Trump’s com­ments last week.

“At last, the Pres­i­dent has agreed to $2,000 — Democ­rats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unan­i­mous con­sent. Let’s do it!”

Nat­u­ral­ly, Repub­li­cans refused to allow the CASH Act to be brought to the floor by unan­i­mous con­sent on Christ­mas Eve, but Pelosi had antic­i­pat­ed that, and teed up the leg­is­la­tion to be con­sid­ered today. With sev­er­al dozen Repub­li­cans clear­ly tak­ing their cues from Don­ald Trump, it sailed through the House easily.

The Sen­ate is like­ly to be a dif­fer­ent story.

Mitch the Grinch is prepar­ing for bat­tle with Joe Biden’s incom­ing admin­is­tra­tion and is plan­ning to cam­paign for aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures, at least with respect to domes­tic appro­pri­a­tions. McConnell has no inter­est in pass­ing the CASH Act, even though it would do what Don­ald Trump wants.

How­ev­er, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Chuck Schumer has said he’ll try to force a vote, putting McConnell in an awk­ward and uncom­fort­able position.

“The House passed a $2,000 direct pay­ment for work­ing peo­ple,” said U.S. Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders (I‑Vermont), a strong advo­cate for the pay­ments.

“Now it’s the Sen­ate’s turn. If McConnell does­n’t agree to an up or down vote to pro­vide the work­ing peo­ple of our coun­try a $2,000 direct pay­ment, Con­gress will not be going home for New Year’s Eve. Let’s do our job.”

Sanders’ plan is to hold up the Sen­ate’s over­ride of Trump’s veto of the Nation­al Defense Autho­riza­tion Act, a pri­or­i­ty for Mitch McConnel­l’s cau­cus, there­by forc­ing McConnell to put in more time and effort to get what he wants while fend­ing off Democ­rats’ efforts to get the CASH Act con­sid­ered in the Senate.

“I love that this will once and for all put Repub­li­cans on record vot­ing either for or against the peo­ple. The world is watch­ing if you would rather sup­port the peo­ple or big cor­po­ra­tions. Not only will increased pay­ments help peo­ple, but the peo­ple spend­ing will help the econ­o­my,” said a Sanders sup­port­er in reply.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west on the CASH Act was as follows:

Vot­ing Aye for the CASH Act: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck (WA), Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, and Peter DeFazio (OR); Repub­li­cans Jaime Her­rera Beut­ler (WA) and Greg Walden (OR)

Vot­ing Nay Against the CASH Act: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kurt Schrad­er (OR); Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers (WA), Russ Fulcher and Mike Simp­son (ID), Greg Gian­forte (MT)

Not Vot­ing: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Young (AK)

“I am proud to sup­port pas­sage of the CASH Act today, which would pro­vide $2,000 direct cash pay­ments as an eco­nom­ic life­line for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans,” U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Smith (D‑Washington) said in a statement.

Smith has rep­re­sent­ed Wash­ing­ton’s 9th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict since the mid-1990s, and is one of the longest-serv­ing mem­bers of the House from the Pacif­ic North­west. He became the most senior mem­ber of the Wash­ing­ton State House del­e­ga­tion fol­low­ing the retire­ment of Jim McDermott.

“After Con­gress and the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion reached an agree­ment on a COVID-19 relief and appro­pri­a­tions fund­ing pack­age, Pres­i­dent Trump sud­den­ly decid­ed he would delay sign­ing the bill into law, fur­ther exac­er­bat­ing the strug­gles fac­ing indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies across the coun­try. Democ­rats have long pushed for increased direct pay­ments, but House and Sen­ate Repub­li­cans and the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion have opposed high­er pay­ments at every step of the negotiations.”

“Now the Pres­i­dent sud­den­ly claims he sup­ports $2,000 direct pay­ments. If the Pres­i­dent wants to fol­low through on his sup­port for $2,000, he would demand that Sen­ate Repub­li­cans bring this bill up for a vote immediately.”

“Repub­li­cans have repeat­ed­ly failed to work with Democ­rats to pro­vide the health and eco­nom­ic relief need­ed dur­ing this cri­sis. Sign­ing this bill into law would help fam­i­lies strug­gling to put food on the table or make next month’s rent pay­ment. We will con­tin­ue to fight to pro­vide Amer­i­cans with the sub­stan­tial sup­port they need dur­ing this pan­dem­ic and eco­nom­ic crisis.”

Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden told reporters today that he also sup­ports the $2,000 cash pay­ments. Asked fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of planned remarks in Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware if he is a backer of the CASH Act, Biden said that he is.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts

One reply on “U.S. House resoundingly adopts CASH Act to boost COVID-19 recovery payments to $2,000”

Comments are closed.