Last night, the House of Representatives voted and passed the updated HEROES Act by a vote of 214-207.
Just before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that she was not able to strike a deal with the Administration over the revised HEROES Act. With no deal, members of Pelosi’s caucus voted their conscience.
Eighteen House Democrats voted against the bill along with all the Republicans in the House.
Democrats gave a variety of reasons for voting “no” on the package. Some members wanted the talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to continue in order to see if a deal could be reached. Others, such as Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), who is a fiscal hawk, likely wanted to see a lower total price tag than the one advanced by Pelosi. Finally, others voted “no” on this package because they wanted to see something bigger, something closer to the original $3-plus trillion HEROES Act.
Even with the bill’s passage in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not provide a guarantee that he would put the bill on the floor. Senate Republicans are weary of passing yet another bill, especially one with such a high price tag.
A number of vulnerable Senate Republicans have called for the two sides to compromise and reach an agreement in advance of the November elections. But the question remains: would Leader McConnell put a bill on the floor that would pass with Democrats leading the way and with vulnerable Republicans making up the bulk of remaining votes needed to get a bill over the finish line?
The package that passed on October 1st, with a price tag of $2.2 trillion, is a scaled-down version of the HEROES Act. It incorporates the spending priorities of the original HEROES Act at about one-half of the original appropriation proposal amounts. The bill includes $89.5 billion to municipalities using the modified CDBG allocation method that NLC proposed, as well as some technical improvements to the CARES Act, namely, expanding CARES fund eligibility to cover lost revenues and extending the expenditure deadline through the end of FY2021. A summary of the state and local sections of the bill may be found here.
Over the course of the past couple days, Mnuchin and Pelosi engaged in long, detailed talks after Democrats put out their $2.2 trillion revised package earlier this week. Mnuchin spent 90 minutes on Capitol Hill with the Speaker on September 30th discussing the details. During that meeting at the Capitol, the other main negotiator, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, left halfway through the meeting. Many see Meadows as a roadblock to achieving a compromise. The deals that Democrats and the Administration struck earlier in the year came before Meadows joined the West Wing.
Mnuchin returned to the Capitol with a counteroffer of $1.62 trillion, with $250 billion for state and local governments, according to reporting from Roll Call.
Unfortunately, the two sides could not reach a deal and, barring any major trajectory changes, will not likely reach an agreement in the next 32 days before the election. Cities, towns and villages throughout the country remain hopeful that Congressional negotiations will continue and communities will get the federal support they deserve.
About the Author:
Michael Gleeson is the Legislative Manager for Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations at the National League of Cities.