Bay Area leaders eye different items of COVID-19 stimulus bill

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus relief package will head to the House of Representatives this week for another congressional vote. Local Bay Area leaders are at odds on whether they want the bill to pass.

The American Rescue Act cleared the Senate without any Republican support. It's expected to easily clear the House and eventually make its way to President Joe Biden's desk.

The bill includes a $1,400 payout for Americans earning less than $75,000 a year.

"Democrats are still pretending like this is some down the middle proposal and lecturing us for not supporting it," said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.

John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party says that it's a problem the bill can move forward with zero Republican senators backing it.

"I think that's a signal that there is something not quite right with the bill and usually means it's destined to not work out well," said Dennis.

Earlier this week, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) held a call to speak about the bill. He supported adding a $15 an hour wage amendment, first introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). It was ultimately shot down by Republicans and a handful of Democrats.

On Sen. Padilla's call was Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. She says the city of Oakland needs the American Rescue Package to pass after the city accrued a more than $200 million deficit in the last year.

"The American Rescue Plan is a rescue plan for Oakland," said Mayor Schaaf. "This has been one of the most violent years in my beloved hometown that we have had in recent memory. Out of fiscal necesity, I have had to reduce public safety services."

The bill proposed $350 billion to local governments. USA Today predicts California will receive $42.3 billion of that money.

It also offers $28 billion for restaurant and bar help, $15 billion in loans for small businesses and $7 billion for paycheck protection.

Those are welcome numbers for Laurie Thomas, the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

"This additional grant money, additional relief for unemployed, that just gives us time for us all to recover," she said. "Unfortunately, I don't think this is going to be an instant recovery."

Many Republicans say they have a problem with how much the bill spends.

"90% of this money has zero to do with COVID," said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during Senate debate.

Dennis echoed that.

"If you look at the bill, very little of it actually goes to direct stimulus to the American people." he said. "tThere's all kinds of goodies in there for, sorry to say, Democrat supporters."

The House is expected to begin debating the bill Tuesday. Once it passes, President Biden plans to sign the bill right away. Stimulus checks could begin rolling out right away, though experts expect a delay from the IRS as they simultaneously process tax returns.