Today, May 15, Congress will vote on Nancy Pelosi’s Heroes Act that is a bill aimed to cushion our economy in order to reopen the country efficiently, provide aid to our frontline workers, and put money in the pockets of hard-working Americans. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many congresspeople are homebound and proxy voting will be temporarily permitted as the congresspeople essentially work from home.
The House Democrats are still expected to back the Speaker’s relief package, due to the proposed new rule to allow proxy voting. As a result of COVID-19, many congresspeople are homebound. The proposed proxy voting, would allow lawmakers to cast votes for colleagues who aren’t in the Capitol in person, marking one of the biggest changes to chamber rules in decades.
Proxy voting was allowed in committees until Republicans banned the practice after their 1994 takeover of the House.
Tension within the Democratic party
Pelosi is projecting confidence that Congress will pass her ‘Rooseveltian’ inspired bill, despite the overwhelming amount of backlash from Republicans and some Democrats.
At least one moderate Democrat, Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), has said she’ll oppose the package, dismissing it as a “messaging bill” with no GOP support. Other members have also said they are leaning against the bill, discouraged by the overall cost of the bill and the provisions to provide undocumented immigrants with aid or to repeal the cap on state and local tax deductions.
Some Democratic labor advocates complain that the proposed pension provision would weaken the multi-employer pension system.
In response to these doubts, Pelosi warned members of the caucus, “If you vote against this and all this funding for your state, then you have to go home and defend it. And if you can defend that no vote, then you’re a better politician than me.”
Rep. Ro Khanna, a member of CPC leadership, said Thursday the group has not yet settled on a plan. When asked whether progressives would be willing to vote against the bill or the rule to govern debate, Khanna said, “I’m hoping it won’t come to that.” Khanna added, “These things have all been difficult choices, because our states and counties so desperately need the trillion dollars, but there are parts of it that are problematic.”
Progressives are demanding more money for safety net programs, including Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal’s signature proposal to stave off unemployment by letting the federal government cover payroll for struggling companies for at least three months. Others wanted Democrats to expand health benefits under Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, rather than shore up the costly and unpopular temporary workplace insurance program, COBRA (Continuation of Health Coverage).