The GOP's recently revealed HEALS Act is already gaining bipartisan agreement on one thing, though it is not what the GOP had hoped for. After the new stimulus proposal was unveiled Monday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are speaking out against the bill, with several Republicans revolting against many critical pieces included in the legislation.
According to CNN, the pushback from Senate Republicans to the proposal has even been acknowledged by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who unveiled the package. Following a lunch with his Republican colleagues Tuesday, he told reporters, "I think it's stating the obvious that I have members who are all over the line on this." His comment came as some other prominent Republicans began to voice their dissent of the package, which will likely undergo intense negotiations.
Addressing the bill, Sen. Ted Cruz called it "a mistake" that offers "the wrong approach" to the coronavirus response. He added that "we should be focused on reopening the economy, not simply shoveling trillions of dollars out of Washington." Meanwhile, Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, said that "there are a hundred problems with the plan."
Targeting the nation's health, economy, liability protections, and school aid, the key features of the bill are the second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, funding for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, funding for schools, aid for small businesses, and a cut to the current enhanced unemployment benefits. While some of those things are being met with pushback, other measures included in the legislation are drawing intense scrutiny.
Among the most controversial aspects of the package is the $1.75 billion designated "for the design and construction of a Washington, D.C. headquarters facility for the Federal Bureau of Investigation." Already facing backlash from Democrats, who have speculated the money is included to boost the president's real estate located next to the building, the funding is also raising eyebrows among Republicans, who question why such funding was included in a bill meant to target the hardships brought on by the pandemic.
Sen. Rick Scott said that he doesn't "understand it" or hot it is "tied to coronavirus?" He said that "during a pandemic, let's concentrate on solving the problem." Sen. Lindsey Graham seemed to agree, claiming, "I don't know why it's in there either." McConnell himself, who stated after the package was unveiled that the Trump administration "insisted that be included," said that he is "opposed to non-germane amendments, whether it's funding for the FBI building or for example whether in the House bill it's a tax cut for high-income earners in blue states or other non-germane amendments in the House bill like marijuana studies or aid to illegal immigrants."
The HEALS Act has now entered the negotiations stage of the process, with Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, saying that "we've got a lot of negotiating to do." Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are attempting to pass a new relief package by Aug. 7, as they will enter another recess lasting until September after that.