Later today, Nancy Pelosi will call a vote on her $3 trillion “Heroes Act,” her version of the next phase of COVID-19 relief aimed mainly at state and local governments — and larded up with practically every progressive hobby horse, too. Mitch McConnell called the bill a “seasonal catalog of left-wing oddities” and “a totally unserious effort” yesterday. Senate Republicans have proclaimed Pelosi’s bill dead on arrival in the upper chamber, where work on an alternative hasn’t even considered Pelosi’s proposal.
But will it actually arrive? Starting last night, multiple media outlets began reporting that opposition to Pelosi’s stunt bill had begun to grow among House Democrats — and Pelosi doesn’t have much margin for error anyway. Politico first noted it, but reported that the bill was expected to pass anyway:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is projecting confidence that the House will pass Democrats’ massive coronavirus relief bill Friday, even as she and her leadership team are still working to secure the votes.
Both liberals and centrists in the caucus are grumbling about the roughly $3 trillion measure. House Republicans have overwhelmingly said they oppose the bill, and some Democrats are unable to travel to the Capitol to vote amid the pandemic, leaving Pelosi and her whip operation with tight margins to clear the bill.
Still, House Democrats are expected to broadly back the package, likely approving it late Friday evening and setting up Pelosi’s opening bid in the next round of aid negotiations with Republicans.
Not so fast, reported CNN later last night. Moderate Democrats started speaking up about the bloat in the bill and the exploitation of the crisis, and started moving into outright opposition to it. Opposition comes especially from districts that might be most vulnerable in November — the districts Democrats won back from Trump and the GOP in the midterms:
Some moderate Democrats in Congress are expressing unease over, or outright opposition to, the more than $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that party leaders are bringing to the House floor for a Friday vote.
The pushback underscores how House Democratic leaders are being attacked on all sides over the legislation — by congressional Republicans, who have dismissed the legislation as a liberal wish list, as well as within their own ranks by both progressives and moderates. …
Freshman Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn, a moderate who flipped an Oklahoma House seat from red to blue in 2018, strongly criticized the Democratic leadership’s $3 trillion coronavirus response bill on Thursday, saying that she won’t vote for it.
“Messaging bills without bipartisan support are a disservice to the American people, especially during a time of crisis,” she said in a statement. “This is not the time for partisan gamesmanship, this is the time to find common ground and deliver help where it is needed most.”
Pelosi hasn’t had much interest in negotiation; she has mainly stuck to her strategy of keeping the House sidelined and gumming up Senate negotiations. That has allowed her more leverage, but it hasn’t produced much in the way of results. In the last fight over replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program, Pelosi tried to force a massive outlay for state/local bailouts, only to get skunked in the end. This time around, there isn’t quite as much time pressure, which has reduced the effectiveness of Pelosi’s gum-it-up tactics.
That’s why this time Pelosi wants to push her own bill, but that means she needs a vote — and she needs all hands on deck to pass it. How many Democrats will be present for the vote matters just as much as how many Democrats will vote in favor of it. House Republicans pressed hard to get Pelosi to call the chamber back to action earlier, while Democrats expressed reluctance to return to Washington at all, and the GOP will vote to oppose the bill in toto. How many Democrats will actually return to the chamber today to vote for a bill they know has no chance at all of even being considered by the Senate? How many will resent Pelosi’s tactics in forcing a vote on this bill — especially when she locked them out from drafting it in a normal process?
Keep an eye on the plans for the House today. If Pelosi can whip enough to keep the bill alive, the vote will take place as normal. If for some reason it gets postponed, though, it almost certainly means that Pelosi stuffed it so full of nonsense that even her own caucus can’t swallow it.