House OKs $1.9T coronavirus bill -- with 2 Democrats voting against it

Hours ahead of the vote, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy derided the proposal as "Pelosi’s Payoff Bill"

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package early Saturday -- the sixth COVID bill passed since the pandemic began a year ago.

The vote around 2 a.m. ET was 219-212.

Two Democrats voted against their party's plan: U.S. Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon. Both lawmakers also opposed a $3 trillion bill last May that ultimately failed.

Golden issued a statement defending his decision.

"During challenging times, the country needs its elected leaders to work together to meet the most urgent needs in their communities," Golden said, according to The Associated Press. "This bill addresses urgent needs, and then buries them under a mountain of unnecessary or untimely spending."

"This bill addresses urgent needs, and then buries them under a mountain of unnecessary or untimely spending."

— U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine
U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, seen March 6, 2019, voted against the Democrats' latest coronavirus bill. (Roll Call)

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, seen March 6, 2019, voted against the Democrats' latest coronavirus bill. (Roll Call)

Not a single Republican backed Saturday's bill. About two hours before the vote, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy derided the proposal as "Pelosi’s Payoff Bill."

McCarthy, R-Calif., further described the legislation as "Democrats’ costly, corrupt and liberal spending package," one that he claimed signified, "The Swamp is back."

HOUSE TO VOTE ON BIDEN'S $1.9T CORONAVIRUS RELIEF PACKAGE THAT INCLUDES $1,400 STIMULUS CHECKS

"Congress won’t actually vote on this bill until 2 a.m. Saturday," McCarthy said. "Why? Because Democrats are so embarrassed by all the non-COVID waste in this bill that they are jamming it through in the dead of night.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. (Associated Press)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. (Associated Press)

"We ran the numbers," McCarthy added. "The amount of money that actually goes to defeating the virus is less than 9 percent – Less than 9 percent! So don’t call it a rescue bill. Don’t call it a relief bill. Call it the Pelosi Payoff."

"The amount of money that actually goes to defeating the virus is less than 9 percent – Less than 9 percent!"

— House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

Many Republicans particularly objected to Democrats’ efforts to include a $15 minimum wage requirement as part of the package -- saying it would hurt businesses and cost many Americans their jobs.

The House bill passed Saturday morning included the $15 plan -- but the Democrats' effort was expected to run into a roadblock in the Senate because Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough this week decided that inclusion of the $15 plan would violate Senate rules.

Shortly before midnight Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the bill in remarks on the House floor, declaring the $15 minimum wage goal would be achieved one way or another, regardless of MacDonough’s ruling.

"It is inevitable to all of us, the $15 minimum wage will be achieved," Pelosi said, "even if it is inconceivable to some, it is inevitable to us – and we will work diligently to shorten the distance between the inevitable and the inconceivable."

The $15 minimum wage proposal is particularly important to progressives -- but other House Democrats appeared pleased with the bill that was passed Saturday.

"I am a happy camper tonight," U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said, according to The Associated Press. "This is what America needs. Republicans, you ought to be a part of this. But if you're not, we're going without you."

"Republicans, you ought to be a part of this. But if you're not, we're going without you."

— U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

Lawmakers were rushing to send approved legislation to President Biden's desk by March 14, when key unemployment aid programs for millions are set to expire.

The proposal contains a third $1,400 stimulus check for Americans earning less than $75,000 annually, increases jobless benefits to $400 a week through the end of August, expands the child tax credit to up to $3,600 per child, includes $350 billion for state and local government funding and allocates $170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions to cover reopening costs.

GOP lawmakers have questioned the need for another $2 trillion, accusing their liberal colleagues of using the bill as means of passing a "Democratic wish list."

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Following the House vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused House Democrats of bringing the "wrong attitude" to the coronavirus legislation.

"In 2020, Congress passed five COVID-19 rescue passages," McConnell said in a statement. "All five were completely bipartisan. It was the largest peacetime fiscal expansion in American history ... because both parties had shaped the bills together and they met Americans' urgent needs."

"Tonight," he added, "House Democrats snapped that bipartisan streak. They jammed through a bill that even liberal economsts and editorial boards say is not targeted to this stage of the fight."

Fox Business’ Megan Henney and The Associated Press contributed to this story.