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.