Cooper: Pelosi's pungent pandemic package nonstarter, thankfully, in Senate

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The very name of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's COVID-19 virus relief bill, the Heroes Act, suggests it's something it's not.

Who doesn't want to help heroes, after all?

The $3 trillion package, said Pelosi in words reported by helpful traditional national news sources, is what's needed to confront the "villainous virus" and the country's attendant economic collapse.

"The American people," she says of the price tag that is bigger than the previous relief bills combined, "are worth it."

The bill that is likely to be approved in the House today, though, has tenets that have nothing to do with heroes - far from it.

Indeed, plans in it would order the release of federal prisoners, illegal aliens in federal immigration detention facilities, and local convicts if they are considered by the courts and judicial officers not to be a threat to the community, would impose a moratorium on the imposition and collection of court-imposed fees and fines during the crisis, would shield illegal immigrants from deportation if they take U.S. jobs in "essential critical infrastructure work," would suspend the Department of Labor's ability to prosecute an employer that hires an illegal immigrant over Americans, and would give illegal immigrants with taxpayer-identification cash payments of $1,200.

In addition, it would overturn some of the restrictions in previous bills to allow for bailouts for Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider; would give $3.6 billion to help states do all mail-in election ballots, the type deemed most ripe for fraud and most desired by Democrats; and would force fiscally responsible states to bail out the fiscally irresponsible, largely Democratic states in areas such as badly handled pension funds.

Further, in a re-do of a defeated attempt from a previous virus bill, it would restore the state and local tax deduction for two years that was capped by the 2017 tax reform bill. The deduction, as many learned the first time Pelosi tried it only weeks ago, was a sop to her constituents - wealthy, high-income earners in largely high-tax Democrat-run states.

And in a tenet wholly and laughingly unrelated to the virus, the bill would - in Democrats' own description and in order to cater to two left-wing constituencies with one stone - require "reports to Congress on access to financial services and barriers to marketplace entry for potential and existing minority-owned cannabis-related legitimate businesses."

"This is taking everything else that we've done, adding it up together, and this bill alone surpasses - at $3 trillion dollars - all of the other three-plus aid packages that we passed before," said U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Indiana. "At the end of the day, this is a Democrat grab bag special interest giveaway to their base supporters. Not a single Republican had any input at all into this massive spending deal."

Ponder that for a moment - not a single Republican had any input on the bill. Does that sound familiar? That's how the Affordable Care Act was passed. That's how articles of impeachment were drawn up against President Donald Trump.

If House Democrats are to be taken seriously in saying they want to help the American people during a time of crisis, a bill that considers only the wishes of a slight majority of House Democrats - representing perhaps not even a majority of the American people - must be a nonstarter.

Fortunately, that's what its chances are in the Senate.

"I've said it once, and I'll say it again," U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga told this page in an email statement, "any aid legislation passed by Congress must be bipartisan. The legislation the Democrats have brought to the floor this week is a partisan and unclean bill costing $3 trillion. The American people need bipartisanship and unity from Congress. Political games help no one in this situation."

"Nancy Pelosi has been doing this a long time," U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, told Huntsville's WVNN. "She knows that the House is only half of the Congress and the White House has got to sign this bill. And she knows that this is going nowhere."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said there is no urgency to rush a new bill.

"What you've seen in the House ... is not something designed to deal with reality, " he said, "but designed to deal with aspirations. This is not a time for aspirational legislation, this is a time for practical response to the coronavirus pandemic."

If Pelosi and Democrats want to help the American people, she would suggest only measures where there might be at least some agreement, such as in assistance for state and local governments, an extension of employment insurance, expanding liability protection for employers and direct payments to individuals.

Bills like the House speaker has proposed waste everybody's time, and a global pandemic is not the opportunity to waste anybody's time.