Speed Reads


Progressives may block Democrats' coronavirus bill after it leaves out payroll funding for small businesses

House Democrats released a $3 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Tuesday, which includes a combined $875 billion for state and local governments. But one progressive priority didn't make it into the bill's 1,815 pages, and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus say they'll disrupt a scheduled Friday vote on the bill to try to make sure it does.

Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), as well as 58 other Democrats, had pushed for the HEROES Act to include what they called a "Paycheck Guarantee" program. It would've extended $600 billion in funding to small businesses over the next six months to help cover their payroll costs. But Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) turned it down, saying it was too expensive. The HEROES Act will extend an already implemented tax credit to businesses, at an additional cost of $200 billion to the government.

Jayapal and Pocan responded to Tuesday's HEROES Act rollout by saying Friday was too soon for a vote. "We must have more time to determine what is in and what is not in this legislation," they said in a letter to House Democratic leadership. They'd like the vote to pushed off until next week, after a "full caucus meeting and conversation ... to ensure that it truly reflects the priorities and the work of the entire caucus." Kathryn Krawczyk