On Wednesday, the government financing bill encountered a last-minute hurdle. Pelosi withdrew $15 billion in additional COVID-19 funding due to members’ opposition to pulling back state aid.
Democrats openly maintained their commitment to passing a massive government funding measure on Wednesday.
Wednesday afternoon, several Democrats staged a mutiny over proposed cuts to state and local aid to pay extra coronavirus treatment, postponing a scheduled House vote on a $1.5 trillion federal spending package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was eventually compelled to withdraw the new COVID-19 funding.
The opposition was focused among Democrats concerned about losing federal cash previously authorized by their states to confront the epidemic. The 2,741-page spending package was filed early Wednesday and is expected to vote in the early afternoon.
However, the House vote was jeopardized when Democrats from Michigan, Florida, and Washington heard about a $15 billion coronavirus relief package to bolster virus testing and vaccine delivery.
Around half of that would be funded by recouping funds from states still owed money under last year’s stimulus program. That was a prominent Republican demand earlier in the day, and one on which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed success.
Democratic legislators from impacted states opposed the bill. “This agreement was reached behind closed doors,” Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig told reporters. “Members were informed this morning. This is intolerable.”
Others were also displeased. According to a House Democratic staffer familiar with the matter, Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington made calls to the White House, other state members’ congressional delegation, and the governor.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee informed DelBene that the state would lose $400 million in COVID-19 money if the proposal passed.
The outpouring of rage extended into progressive circles as well. “This cash has already been authorized in Missouri for daycare, healthcare, housing, and public education,” Rep. Cori Bush said in a statement.
“To then turn around and say we’re going to return hundreds of millions of dollars in the name of bipartisanship is beyond belief.”
Pelosi was finally forced to forego the additional COVID funds, which she described in a statement on Wednesday afternoon as “heartbreaking.” However, she stressed that the proposal needed to pass on Wednesday to provide Ukraine with virtual money.
Democrats had prepared a four-day funding patch to keep the government operating beyond Friday as a backup.
It was unclear when the Lower House would approve the massive spending plan. House Democrats must return the bill to the Rules Committee for revision and reintroduction to the House floor.
Then they must agree on a floor rule establishing the bounds of debate, followed by two hours of debate. The vote appeared to have the potential to last long into the evening.
“Everything is going according to plan,” Rep. Jim McGovern, leader of the Rules Committee, stated on the House floor with a tinge of sarcasm. “Everything is lovely in its unique way.”
The House adjourned shortly afterward to allow Democrats to work out disputes over the funding plan.