Alabama’s House Republicans Oppose COVID Relief Bill That Passed the House; Senate Takes Up Issue This Week

WASHINGTON — Members of Alabama’s House delegation, except for Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, voted against the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed the House on a 219-212 vote Saturday.

HR 1319, which the Senate is expected to take up this week, would expand unemployment benefits by $400 per week from March 14 through Aug. 29; deliver payments of $1,400 per person to individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples up to $150,000; raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour by 2025; expand Paycheck Protection Program benefits for small businesses and non-profits; establish a $25 billion grant program for the restaurant industry; and increase Affordable Care Act premium subsidies for a large number of the uninsured.

The bill would raise the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children younger than 6 and $3,000 for ages 6 through 17. It would make the maximum credit refundable to single heads of household earning up to $112,500 and married couples up to $150,000 as well as to families with little or no income in an attempt to lift 4.1 million children above the poverty line and reduce child poverty by 40%.

In addition, the bill would expand the earned income tax credit for low-income working adults without children at home from $530 to $1,500 per person and raise the top income for receiving the credit from $16,000 to $21,000 for individuals. It would lower the age at which non-students can start claiming the EITC from 25 to 19 and make the credit available to qualified working seniors over 65.

The bill also would provide:

K-12 Schools

$130 billion for K-12 schools to be used mainly to fund ventilation improvements and projects to reduce class sizes, reverse pandemic learning losses and supply protective gear to teachers and pupils.

Higher Education

$40 billion for post-secondary education, with colleges and universities required to allocate at least half of their sum to Pell Grants.

State, Local, Tribal Aid

$350 billion to help state, local, tribal and territorial governments meet expenses including payroll costs of frontline workers, with 60% directed to states and the District of Columbia and 40% split between county and municipal governments. Tribal governments would receive $20 billion and territories $4.5 billion.

Child Care

$1 billion for Head Start and $39 billion in grants to keep child care centers open, with low-income families given priority for receiving child care tuition aid.

Food and Nutrition

$12 billion for programs to address hunger, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program and a program that electronically pays grocery bills for children to offset their loss of school meals.

Social Safety Net

$4.5 billion for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program for home heating and cooling plus billions for Older Americans Act beneficiaries and programs addressing child abuse and domestic violence.


$28 billion for mass transit; $8 billion for airports; $1.5 billion for Amtrak; and $15 billion in payroll support to avert layoffs in the passenger-airline sector.


$46 billion for tracing and monitoring COVID-19; $8.5 billion for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination efforts; $5.2 billion for vaccine research and manufacturing; and $7.6 billion for community health centers.

Defense Production Act

$10 billion for fast-tracking the purchase of goods and services for combatting COVID-19 under the Defense Production Act.


$25 billion in rent and utility assistance; $10 billion to help landlords pay mortgages, property taxes and utility bills; $5 billion for homeless shelters; and $5 billion in housing vouchers for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.


$3.6 billion for Department of Agriculture food distribution and grants and loans to farmers, plus hundreds of millions for rural health care and loans to minority farmers harmed by historically biased farm policies.


$13.5 billion for expanding health care including COVID-19 treatments for veterans; $750 million for veterans’ day care; $400 million for job retraining; and $272 million for processing medical claims.

Family and Sick Leave

$570 million to fund family and sick leave with pay for postal workers and federal civil servants.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.


Voting yes: Sewell, D-7 

Voting no: Jerry Carl, R-1, Barry Moore, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, Gary Palmer, R-6 

More From the House

Here’s how area members of Congress voted on other major issues during the legislative week ending Feb. 26.

 ­Outlawing Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

Voting 224 for and 206 against, the House on Feb. 25 passed a bill (HR 5) that would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Fair Housing Act of 1968 to protect LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) individuals against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The proposed Equality Act also would expand the Civil Rights Act’s listing of public accommodations to include retail stores, banks and transportation and health care services, and it would designate sexual characteristics as a protected class in public accommodations. In addition, the bill would prohibit the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1994 from being invoked to sanction discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Chris Pappas, D-N.H., said the bill “will bring our nation closer to the promise of its founding and change the lives of generations of LGBTQ Americans for the better. This should be one of the easiest and most affirming votes we ever take. Equality is, after all, a self-evident truth. It is part of the bedrock of this nation.”

Greg Steube, R-Fla., said: “God intentionally made each individual male or female. When men or women claim their own sexual identity, they’re making a statement that God did not know what he was doing when he created them … . When the nation’s laws no longer reflect the standards of God, that nation is rebelling against him and will bear the consequences.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.


Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Carl, Moore, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

Protecting Grand Canyon and Wilderness

Voting 227 for and 200 against, the House on Feb. 26 passed a bill (HR 803) that would protect more than three million acres of public land in the West as wilderness while putting a permanent ban on uranium mining claims on 1.2 million acres of federally owned land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona.

In part, the bill would protect from development more than one million unspoiled acres in Colorado, 258,400 acres in Washington, 924,700 acres in California and large swaths of public land in Oregon while expanding the National Wild and Scenic River System by adding 460 miles of protected waterways in Washington and 480 miles in California.

Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said the bill “seeks to protect some of our nation’s most treasured public land” and is about “more than just protecting our environment, but protecting our economy and way of life as well” while furthering efforts to combat climate change.

Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said: “The most basic types of (wildfire prevention) are illegal under wilderness designations. You can’t take a chain saw and trim underbrush. Parts of Colorado are a tinder box. Should this bill become law, we are going to see bigger and hotter fires. I don’t want to see Colorado burn up.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.


Voting yes: Sewell 

Voting no: Carl, Moore, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 

Blocking Biden Energy Orders

Voting 204 for and 221 against, the House on Feb. 26 defeated a Republican bid to prevent HR 803 (above) from becoming law until after President Biden has rescinded executive orders aimed at transforming the U.S. energy economy from one based on fossil fuels to clean energy over the next three decades.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.


Voting yes: Carl, Moore, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 

Voting no: Sewell


Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy

Voting 64 for and 35 against, the Senate on Feb. 25 confirmed Jennifer M. Granholm, 62, as secretary of energy. She was the first female governor of Michigan and served as Michigan’s attorney general, the first woman to hold that post.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.


Voting yes: None

Voting no: Richard Shelby, R, Tommy Tuberville, R 

Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture

Voting 92 for and seven against, the Senate on Feb. 23 confirmed Thomas J. Vilsack, 70, as secretary of agriculture. A former governor of Iowa, he served as agriculture secretary throughout both terms of the Barack Obama presidency.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.


Voting yes: Shelby, Tuberville

Voting no: None

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United Nations Envoy

Voting 78 for and 21 against, the Senate on Feb. 23 confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield, 68, as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. A 35-year veteran of the Foreign Service, she served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs under former President Barack Obama.

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.


Voting yes: None

Voting no: Shelby, Tuberville


The House will take up a bill to reform policing practices in the week of March 1, while the Senate will debate President Biden’s COVID-19 relief package.