Democrat Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) briefly blasted “Fight Song” on her phone during her time to speak on H.R. 6201, the Democrats’ coronavirus economic relief proposal, at a House Rules Committee meeting on Wednesday night.
Lawmakers on Wednesday discussed the Democrats’ emergency relief proposal purportedly designed to combat negative economic impacts related to Chinese coronavirus.
Shalala, who served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services during former President Bill Clinton’s administration, briefly blasted “Fight Song” — which further rose to popularity after serving as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign song — on her phone before defending the package.
“I think it’s a mental health bill,” she said after turning the song off, describing the bill as a means to “reassure and reduce the anxiety and the fear that’s out there in this country.”
She argued in favor of the Democrats’ proposal, contending that their colleagues who crafted the bill simply built on existing programs.
“And if you look at what our distinguished members did in this bill, they went into their toolbox,” she explained.
“They took existing programs that we’ve had hearing after hearing on over the last decade and focused those programs on this particular virus and this set of fears in our communities,” she continued.
The package, for example, provides emergency food stamp assistance and suspends work requirements. It also lays out an emergency paid leave benefits program.
The Trump administration has pushed for a payroll tax cut, but Democrats have dismissed the idea. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) bluntly called it a “non-starter.”
Shalala said the bill will “reassure” families that they have a support network stemming from the federal government, which will help ease fears.
“There is nothing really new in this package except that it’s focused very carefully on supporting families that are scared to death about this virus,” she said. “And I think that it goes a long way to reduce anxiety and fear in our communities.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on Thursday that Republicans will not support the Democrats’ bill because it “comes up short” and remains “off-base.”
“There’s a couple major problems with it. Here’s one glaring problem, under Pelosi’s bill, the Social Security Administration will be set up to administer the paid sick leave program. Now this will take more than six months, so it won’t work in time,” McCarthy said.
“It will also hamper the administration from putting out Social Security for those who need it right now that are in harm’s way,” he added.
“Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi’s first draft from late last night was off-base. It does not focus immediate relief on affected Americans,” he continued, contending that it only “proposes new bureaucracy that would only delay assistance.”
“It wanders into policy areas that are not related to the pressing issues at hand,” he noted.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also described the Democrats’ proposal as “off-base”:
Fortunately, we do not need to choose between Speaker Pelosi’s first draft and doing nothing. I am glad the Administration is continuing talks. The Senate is ready to consider a bipartisan, bicameral package if House Democrats return to the table & work with the President's team.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) March 12, 2020
Negotiations are still underway.