Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, accused Democrats Wednesday of being more concerned about helping special interests than getting the economy back up and running before the 33 million Americans who are temporarily jobless become permanently out of work.
“The word cannabis appears more times in Democrats’ bill than the word job,” said Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Cannabis shows up 68 times in the 1,815-page legislation. Job or jobs shows up 52 times.
Brady said the Democrats’ plan is merely a “show vote” that is “dead on arrival” once it reaches the Senate. Brady could find little in the bill he likes and expressed doubt on whether another round of stimulus is even needed.
The centerpiece of the bill is nearly $1 trillion to state and local governments to plug budget holes and prevent layoffs of public workers, like first responders and teachers. Then, the House Democrats plan another round of $1,200 stimulus checks per person to an expanded pool of recipients.
Brady doesn’t support either of those provisions and took issue with certain undocumented immigrants having eligibility for the $1,200 checks under the plan.
“I think our main focus needs to be getting people back to work,” Brady said. “I think that’s the key both short term and long term for the economy and for families as well. I don’t agree with expanding this to those who were not here legally … You are inviting more fraud in the tax system.”
Brady took issue with the House Democrats’ plan to repeal the $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions that he pushed through during the Trump tax cut program. Lawmakers from high-tax states like New York and California were incensed that the federal government would no longer allow taxpayers in those states to get a full deduction for the large taxpayers their pay on their state incomes and local property taxes.
“With the inclusion of the rollback on SALT is a giveaway to millionaire households while it gives a green light for local governments to tax their families and workers even more,” Brady said.
Brady called out the cannabis provisions as an example of the House’s special interest giveaways.
The coronavirus legislation includes provisions to allow legal cannabis businesses to use traditional banking services. Since marijuana is still federally illegal and federally backed banks won’t do business with marijuana sellers, the cannabis industry has largely been a cash-only business.
Lawmakers from states that have legalized pot have pushed for legislation to open up the banking industry for marijuana dispensaries. In September, the House passed the SAFE Banking Act with broad bipartisan support, but it went nowhere in the Senate.
The author of the bill Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., cheered that his cannabis legislation made it into the $3 trillion coronavirus bill. Like other small businesses, cannabis employers are hurting and need help, too, he said.
The House is scheduled to vote on the measure on Friday and the Senate is not expected to take it up.
Democrats say the scale of the pandemic and the economic disaster requires a big, unprecedented response by Congress.
“The American people are worth it,” Pelosi told The Associated Press in an interview, admitting the plan is a starting point in negotiations.