Far-left members of the ‘squad’ in the House defied Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on a key party-line vote to bring the coronavirus relief bill and $1.4 trillion spending package to the floor, a challenge that may become more serious during the next term of Congress when the Democrat majority becomes much slimmer.
On Monday, Democrat Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Ilhan Omar (MN) voted to block the massive bill from coming to the floor for debate. The vote still passed, and only Tlaib voted against the bill in the end, but the challenge was a protest against giving members at least 72 hours to review any legislation before a vote.
A block of four House Democrats isn’t all that serious now, but in the new term beginning in January 2021, the Democrat majority may only be about 12 votes. If the “squad” can gain a few new members, they will be a big threat to Pelosi’s majority and could command a great deal more power.
Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez agree on bill
In what might be termed a Christmas miracle, Ocasio-Cortez actually got agreement from several of the most conservative GOP members of Congress, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), when she vocally tweeted about the lack of time to review the massive, nearly 6,000-page bill.
.@AOC is right.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) December 21, 2020
In all, six GOP senators and 50 GOP House members voted against the bill, which nevertheless passed easily late Monday night with bipartisan support. President Donald Trump is refusing to sign it, however, until Congress increases the amount of direct stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000 per person and removes many non-coronavirus-related items from the bill, including billions in foreign aid and millions for new museums and other pet projects.
Trump denounced the bill in tweets and a four-minute speech Tuesday night, and sent it back to Congress for revisions.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
Trump denounces bill
Trump didn’t outright say he would veto the bill, which includes all the spending allocations for 2021, but he could end up vetoing it or allowing it to go unsigned in what would end up as a “pocket veto” because of the end of one term and the beginning of another during the ten-day period he would have to sign it.
Vetoing the bill will lead to a government shutdown because the government will not be funded. It will also hold back the aid to businesses and individuals provided in the coronavirus bill– a reality Trump acknowledged in his speech.
“I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation, and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package. And maybe that administration will be me,” Trump said, alluding to his refusal to concede the presidential race even though the Electoral College has awarded enough votes to Joe Biden to inaugurate him on January 20.
It seems that Washington’s attempt to go back to the pre-Trump status quo may have to wait a little bit longer.