The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a $ 484 billion coronavirus support bill on Thursday that financed small businesses and hospitals and pushed the total spending response to the crisis to an unprecedented level of nearly $ 3 trillion.
The measure adopted the Democratic-led House with a vote of 388-5, with one member voting. MPs met for the first time in weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Legislators, who wore many masks, approved the bill over a long period of voting so they could keep their distance from each other in accordance with public health recommendations.
The action of the house sent the last four bills to the White House. Republican President Donald Trump, who supports the measure, said he would probably sign it on Thursday evening.
The Republican-led Senate had passed the legislation on Tuesday with a vote. But threats of opposition from some members of both sides prompted congressional leaders to recall the full room to Washington for the vote in the House, despite the state residences designed to control the spread of the virus.
The House also approved a select committee, with subpoena, to investigate the US response to the coronavirus. It will have broad powers to investigate how federal dollars are spent, U.S. preparedness, and the Trump administration’s deliberations.
Nancy Pelosi, president of the Democratic House, said the panel was essential to ensure that the funds go to those who need them and to avoid scams. Republicans said the commission was unnecessary, citing existing oversight bodies, and again called the creation of the panel an expensive democratic blow against Trump. The committee was approved on a vote of 212-182, along party lines.
The $ 484 billion auxiliary bill was the fourth adopted to address the coronavirus crisis. It provides funds to small businesses and hospitals struggling with the economic toll of a pandemic that killed nearly 50,000 people in the United States and left 26 million unemployed, wiping out all jobs during the longest increase in employment in U.S. history . a handful of lawmakers opposed the legislation, including Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents a hard-hit part of New York and believes that Congress should do even more – and Republican Thomas Massie, known as “Mr. No For his frequent opposition to issuing accounts.
“This is really a very, very, very sad day. We hit the floor with nearly 50,000 deaths, a large number of people and the uncertainty of it all, “Pelosi said during the debate on the bill.
Congress passed the latest coronavirus support measure worth over $ 2 trillion in March, also with overwhelming support from both sides. It was the largest such financing law ever passed.
Problems on the way
The next step will be more difficult. The two sides have paved the way for additional funding for the state and local governments to address the impact of lost revenue after Republicans refused to include such funds in the current emergency law.
Trump has said that he supports more funding for states and has pledged to support it in future legislation.
Congressional Republicans have resisted. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell suggested in a radio interview on Wednesday that states could go bankrupt, but later said he did not want states to use federal funds for something unrelated to the corona virus.
Democrats denounced McConnell for the comment. “Leader McConnell told our cities and states, our police and firefighters and teachers, that he dropped them dead,” said representative Max Rose, who represents a district of New York City.
The vote on Thursday took place according to security protocols that have significantly delayed the procedure. Legislators came to the house in small groups in alphabetical order and were told to stand in line 1.8 meters apart before entering the room.
A half-hour break was also scheduled to clean the room between the two voices. But more than a dozen cleaners came down to the room with cloths and spray bottles and wiped it away in less than 10 minutes.
Following Trump, many Republicans also want the country – including Congress – to reopen soon. South Carolina Republican Representative Ralph Norman said that legislators should “let our companies open the doors and do what Americans have always been allowed to do, namely go to work.”
Republican leader of the house, Kevin McCarthy, said the last aid package should have been adopted at least two weeks ago after the Trump administration requested it. “Unfortunately, some people have been fired because of this delay,” said McCarthy.
Democrats dismissed the charges, saying that lawmakers had improved Trump’s request by adding billions of dollars more for small businesses, hospitals, and coronavirus testing.
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