Republicans accused Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) of attempting to allow funds meant for the coronavirus recovery to go to Planned Parenthood.
Pelosi unveiled a more than $3 trillion coronavirus aid package on Tuesday. Under her so-called HEROES Act, the Payroll Protection Program would receive another $10 billion so that businesses and nonprofit organizations could get loans designed to keep their workers on the payroll. Several Republican lawmakers claim that the House Democrats' coronavirus bill allows for funding to go to Planned Parenthood.
The Trump administration had installed safeguards in the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — also known as the CARES Act — that passed in late March. The safeguards prevented Planned Parenthood for applying for the PPP's $669 billion in emergency loans to help small businesses continue to pay their employees during the COVID-19 shutdown. The House Democrats' HEROES Act would remove those safeguards.
"Speaker Pelosi is working overtime for her donors in the abortion industry," Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks told the Daily Caller on Wednesday. "I can't believe I need to spell this out for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, but cash-strapped Americans don't want to pay for abortions, send cash to illegal immigrants, or have their hard-earned cash used to subsidize coastal elites or failing blue state pension systems."
"The Paycheck Protection Program is for small businesses," Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse told the Daily Caller. "There's nothing small about Planned Parenthood, the country's largest abortion business. Nancy Pelosi shouldn't try to shovel cash to Big Abortion's corporate lobbyists while Americans suffer."
"The Democrats want the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, to qualify for taxpayer money meant for small businesses, churches, and charities," said Arkansas GOP Sen. Tom Cotton. "Congress ought to devote every cent of federal funding to life-saving causes, instead of paying off purveyors of death."
The HEROES Act would define "essential workers" as those who work in "physician offices, community health centers, rural health clinics and other clinics, hospital outpatient departments, freestanding emergency departments, ambulatory surgical centers, and other related settings." Abortion clinic workers appear to be categorized as "essential workers." The HEROES Act would provide $200 billion in "hazard pay" for essential workers.
"Clearly this is an agenda that is out there purely for messaging and isn't a serious attempt at dealing with what we're going through as a country," Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) said of the HEROES Act. "This is kind of the mother of all Christmas trees of pet policies and pet projects as far as I'm concerned."
"The legislation released today by @SpeakerPelosi is merely a partisan wish list that will not become law," Huizenga wrote on Twitter.
"That will not pass. It's not going to be supported," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told CNN.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Congress needs to "pause" and grasp the debt brought on by the CARES Act. McConnell added that Republicans are "taking a look at what we've already done. And we've added about $3 trillion to the national debt, and assessing the effectiveness of that before deciding to go forward."
"The HEROES Act focuses on three pillars: opening our economy safely and soon, honoring our heroes and then putting much-needed money into the pockets of the American people," Pelosi said Tuesday.
"There are those who said, 'Let's just pause,'" Pelosi said. "But the families who are suffering know that hunger doesn't take a pause. The rent doesn't take a pause. The bills don't take a pause."
The House is expected to vote on the HEROES Act on Friday.