- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2020

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a moderate Democrat from Virginia, announced her opposition to the Democrats’ $3 trillion coronavirus spending bill Friday, hours before the chamber is set to vote.

Ms. Spanberger, a freshman lawmaker, explained that Americans expect Congress to work across the aisle and efficiently, but that has broken down.

“Unfortunately, many Members of Congress — including some in my own party — have decided to use this package as an opportunity to make political statements and propose a bill that goes far beyond pandemic relief and has no chance at becoming law, further delaying the help so many need. Therefore, I will respectfully vote against this bill,” she wrote in a statement.

“At this time, we must come together to build a targeted, timely relief package that avoids partisan posturing and instead prioritizes combatting our nationwide public health emergency, addressing catastrophic unemployment rates, and protecting the security of the next generation,” she added.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent out a formal “Dear Colleague” letter to Democrats Friday morning, making the case for the bill’s importance.

“The plan that we are voting on today will make a tremendous difference not only in the budgets of the states but in the lives of the American people: their public health, the education of our children, the sanitation so important to defeating the virus, with the support of so many essential workers,” she wrote.

At a press conference, Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, argued that there was a double standard on Democrats and highlighted that the initial versions of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and the emergency interim bill for small business loans were put out by the GOP.

Democrats objected to both of those early proposals, and bipartisan packages were negotiated.

“It’s no leader when the leader in the House, a Democrat, writes a bill,” she said. “So now we’re putting our offer on the table. We’re open to negotiations.”

The bill provides more than $800 billion for state and local governments — a major priority for Democrats left out of the last bill, but an area of suspicion for Republicans.

Additionally, the bill expands access to voting by mail by saying states can’t impose additional requirements on otherwise eligible voters to cast an absentee ballot through the mail.

It also includes $175 billion for rent and mortgage subsidies and $25 billion in assistance for the struggling U.S. Post Office.

The bill eliminates for two years a $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction, a prized benefit for generally higher-income residents in blue, high-tax states.

The massive Democratic-led package has received a wave of backlash from Republicans, and a few moderate Democrats, for being an unserious attempt and more of a messaging bill.

“This is not the time for partisan gamesmanship, this is the time to find common ground and deliver help where it is needed most,” Rep. Kendra Horn, Oklahoma Democrat, tweeted. “We must work with our Republican colleagues and leadership in the Senate to negotiate a targeted relief bill that is aimed squarely at the health and economic challenges we face.”

“I urge House leadership to put aside any desire to use this as a political opportunity and instead focus on getting results in a bipartisan, bicameral way. The American people need our help,” she added.

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