House passes massive COVID bill with zero GOP votes

The 2021 definition of “unity” apparently includes passing a nearly two trillion dollar spending package in the House without a single Republican voting in favor of it. That’s what happened in the wee hours of the morning today, anyway. Nancy Pelosi continued her policy of “my way or the highway” and rejected every GOP proposal to reduce some of the costs and take precautions against additional waste, fraud and abuse of relief funds. The bill also included at least one element that has already been declared null and void when it reaches the Senate. Thankfully, the magical money tree in the White House Rose Garden is still bearing fruit. (NBC News)

The House voted early Saturday to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, a step to implementing his vision for bringing the pandemic under control just days after the U.S. crossed the tragic milestone of 500,000 deaths.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 219 to 212 to approve the bill, which includes $1,400 direct payments, a $400-a-week federal unemployment bonus, a per-child allowance of up to $3,600 for one year and billions of dollars to distribute the coronavirus vaccines and to assist schools and local governments.

The vote split largely on partisan lines, with every Republican voting against the measure and just two Democrats joining them — Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.

The amount of the next round of checks didn’t wind up being a compromise with anyone. $1,400 was the first serious number that Joe Biden put on the table and it never changed. The GOP wanted to trim it to $1,000 with more controlled income caps. The “squad” wanted $2,000. I suppose if nobody walks away happy that’s something close to a compromise, but it’s nothing to write home about. The income limits are also questionable. Married couples making $150,000 per year are literally in the top 8% of earners in the country. Dumping another $2,800 on them is pretty generous of a party that spends so much of its time talking about the evils of the privileged top ten percent. The more important question should have been whether or not those families are still making that much or if they lost their income due to the government shutdowns.

Another symbolic thumbing of the nose on the part of House Democrats is the fact that they left the federal $15 minimum wage mandate in the bill. This was done despite the fact that the Senate already ruled that this maneuver can’t be done in reconciliation. That provision will be stripped out in the Senate and not make it to the final version.

The Democrats’ failure to deliver for the “Fight for 15” crowd isn’t going to sit well with progressives. Conversely, the people breathing a sigh of relief when this is over will be small business owners in states where there are lower costs of living and wages near the current federal minimum of $7.25. If that measure had gone through, they would have seen their labor costs more than double in only four years, driving up consumer prices and likely putting a lot of them out of business. Much as we’ve seen in the foodservice industry in larger cities that have driven up the minimum wage, it works out great for some of the workers who remain employed, but it doesn’t do much for those who lose their jobs as their employers either reduce staffing or close down entirely.

Chuck Schumer may have a “plan B” for that, however. Last night he said he was considering adding a provision to the Senate version that would add “penalize large corporations that don’t pay their workers at least a $15 minimum wage.” So let me get this straight. You wouldn’t be raising the minimum wage, but you would penalize employers who are still in compliance with the current minimum wage. And instead of making sure the employers paid more money to their workers, you would take away some of the money and give it to… the government?

Can anyone explain to me what the minimum wage has to do with COVID relief, by the way? The vaccinations are “free.” (As in they are being paid for by you, the taxpayers.) The direct payments are understandable, as is funding for improved vaccine distribution. You can even understand relief loans and grants to small businesses that were shut down by the government. But a lot of the rest of this is simply liberal wishlist items being jammed through in another spending spree.

What an amazing system of governance we enjoy here in America. The new “unity” doesn’t look much like the old unity, but at least it’s providing us with some entertainment during the electoral off-season.