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It’s not just Republicans who are mocking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s massive stimulus bill that was proposed Monday evening.
Some former Obama administration officials have expressed incredulity about the bill and, in particular, over the non-pandemic related provisions that were included in the “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.”
“Have we learned nothing?” Jared Bernstein, who worked on the Recovery Act as chief economist to former Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama White House, said during an interview with Politico.
Bernstein’s comment refers to the drubbing Democrats took in 2009 after the passage of the stimulus bill in response to the recession.
The bill originally included a laundry list of items that Democrats wanted that had little to do with helping the country’s economy recover -- from putting sod on the National Mall to preventing sexually transmitted diseases -- and some former Obama staffers say that the House’s current bill looks surprisingly similar in terms of demands and spending.
The House legislation wants to allocate $25 billion to the Postal Service, $11 billion worth of debt forgiveness and $15 billion in new borrowing authority. The bill is also seeking a bailout of underfunded multi-employer pension plans that coal miners, Teamsters and other labor groups have been pushing for, as well as a $10,000-per-borrower reduction in student loan debt.
“Skimming it, I was struck by: ‘What does all this s--- have to do with anything?’” an unnamed Obama White House veteran said.
It is unclear what will happen to the House bill, especially as the Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came to an agreement on their own $2 trillion stimulus package, which includes some of the provisions that Pelosi and House Democrats included in their own legislation.
Pelosi said the bipartisan agreement “takes us a long way down the road in meeting the needs of the American people” but she stopped short of fully endorsing it.
“House Democrats will now review the final provisions and legislative text of the agreement to determine a course of action,” she said.
House members are scattered around the country and the timetable for votes in that chamber is unclear.
House Democratic and Republican leaders have hoped to clear the measure for President Trump's signature by a voice vote without having to call lawmakers back to Washington. But that may prove challenging, as the bill is sure to be opposed by some conservatives upset at its cost and scope, and by some ardent liberals who don’t see all the provisions they hoped for included.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.