WASHINGTON — Here’s how area representatives voted on a coronavirus bill during the legislative week ending March 27. Congress debated no other substantive measures during the week. Alabama’s House of Representatives members said they supported the bill, although not always happily.
Approving $2.2 Billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act:
The House on March 27 approved on a non-record vote a $2.2 trillion rescue package (HR 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 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.
- $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.
- $350 billion in low- or no-interest loans through June 30 to enable businesses with fewer than 500 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.
- Loans bearing no more than 2 percent interest to companies with 500 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.
- $150 billion help state and local governments cover the cost of fighting the pandemic, with $8 billion allocated to tribal governments.
- $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.
- $50 billion for Department of Agriculture loan programs to benefit farmers and ranchers.
- $17 billion to companies including Boeing deemed vital to national security.
Because the House of Representatives passed the bill by voice vote. President Trump signed it Friday afternoon.
Here are comments by Alabama’s House members from statements, speeches on the floor and social media posts.
Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala: “No bill is perfect, but this bill provides a critical cushion for individuals, small businesses, and our economy. We will beat this virus, and America will emerge stronger than ever!” Byrne delivered a speech on the floor supporting the bill.
Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala, called the bill “a deal that will provide immediate relief to families, small businesses, local communities, health care services, broadband networks, the agriculture industry, veterans, and so many others. This funding is crucial for our district, the entire State of Alabama, and the rest of the country.” Aderholt was present for the vote.
Rep. Mike Rogers: R-Ala: “This bill today is vital to helping families and businesses get through this terrible pandemic that is bringing our economy and lives to almost a halt. More will be needed and more will be done. I am proud to have been on the House Floor to support it. We must continue to stand together as one nation to get through this unprecedented crisis. With our shared faith and perseverance, soon we can get back to work, school and life.” Rogers presented a speech on the floor in support of the bill.
Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala.: “This is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented federal response. This bill is critical to ensuring Alabama families are able to make their home payments and keep food on the table; for hospitals to keep their doors open; and for small businesses to keep workers employed and make it through this difficult time. While this bill is not perfect, it contains important provisions that will help keep Alabama families afloat.”
Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala.: “The legislation passed today was not done in the best way or under the best circumstances, but we believe it was what is necessary at this time.”… For instance, it should not have included $25 million for the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, or $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, or millions of dollars for other programs that have absolutely nothing to do with fighting COVID-19 or with helping families and businesses. The fact that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues held up passage of the bill for three days to get funding for these programs and others exposes the fact that they fully intended to exploit this crisis to advance their left wing agenda.
Palmer concluded, “While I am disappointed by the misguided and disingenuous conduct of Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues, I am very encouraged by the perseverance and loyalty people are displaying towards each other across Alabama and our nation.
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala.: “Help is on the way! … This bill makes available much needed funds for hospitals and front-line health care, cash payments to individuals and families to stimulate America’s economy, and loans for small businesses that have been hit hard by the economic downturn.:
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala.: “While no legislation is perfect, this action will move us all forward while providing critical resources for our nation’s healthcare system and workers, small businesses, and American families as we continue to combat the challenges surrounding this health pandemic.
$2.2 Trillion Cares Act:
The Senate on March 25 voted, 96-0, to marshal $2.2 trillion in coming months against the nationwide spread of the coronavirus. The bill would promptly deliver cash to households while funding forgivable loans to tens of thousands of small businesses, rescue payments to potentially hundreds of large corporations and $600 weekly in extra jobless pay over four months to millions of laid-off workers.
Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby, R, and Doug Jones, voted for HR 748 (above) and sent it to the House.
Declining to Trim Jobless Benefits: The Senate on March 25 turned back, 48-48, a GOP-sponsored attempt to prohibit individuals from temporarily receiving jobless payments in excess of their salary. In states with relatively high benefits, an extra $600 per week in HR 748 (above) could result in individuals receiving total jobless payments over four months at least $2,000 higher than their likely salary over the same period.
Shelby voted to adopt the amendment and Jones voted against it.
KEY VOTES AHEAD
The House schedule for the week of April 3 was to be announced. The Senate will be in recess.