The House of Representatives, fueled by Democratic votes, late Friday approved $3 trillion legislation that includes provisions to expand eligibility for U.S. Small Business Administration loan access to local newspapers and radio and television stations economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s not predicted to win Senate approval, however.
Dubbed the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act,” the legislation is an even-heftier proposal than the $2.2 trillion coronavirus recovery package approved in March by Congress.
The House narrowly passed the legislation, introduced by New York Democrat Nita Lowey, on a 208-199 vote. It occurred on Capitol Hill and saw House Members in face masks, cleansing microphones as each legislator spoke.
And, it saw 14 Democrats nix the bill, while one Republican supported it.
That lack of GOP support renders the legislation as a likely D.O.A. bill in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the legislation an “unserious effort.” The White House has also said it will veto the bill.
It was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Nydia Velazquez who inserted the language in the HEROES Act that includes expanded access to Payroll Protection Program loans for local media outlets. This was applauded by former Oregon Senator and current NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith.
“As local radio and TV stations and hometown newspapers struggle with historic advertising losses, it is critically important they have access to resources to support lifesaving journalism that keep families and communities out of harm’s way,” Smith said.
But, House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader — and former Chairman under Republican control — Greg Walden, also from Oregon and set to retire in January 2021, blasted the HEROES Act.
“Speaker Pelosi has had quite the day,” Walden said late Friday. “She was so excited to both upend 231 years of precedent as well as send a bill to the Senate she knows has zero chance of becoming law. I hope that – now that House Democrats have the talking points they were hoping for – we can get back to doing the serious work required of us during this pandemic. Americans are concerned about how they’ll put food on their table, where their next paycheck is coming from, and whether their government will continue to rise to the occasion and make sure states have what they need to test, treat, and safely reopen. They’re counting on us, and this bill fails them.”