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Waters rejects GOP request to cancel hearing on pandemic relief bill

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WASHINGTON — House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters rejected a GOP request to cancel a hearing on legislation providing additional coronavirus relief.

Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, the committee's top Republican, had questioned the need for the hearing — scheduled for Thursday — on the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act. The bill already passed the House in May, but it has no Republican support and consideration in the full Senate is unlikely.

Waters told McHenry in a letter Tuesday that, with the pandemic "only getting worse" in the U.S., the committee needs to focus on measures such as expanding mortgage forbearance plans, as well as suspending debt collection and negative credit reporting.

“I cannot think of a better way to spend our Committee’s time than these legislative solutions to help American families during and beyond this pandemic,” Waters said in the letter.

“I cannot think of a better way to spend our Committee’s time than these legislative solutions to help American families during and beyond this pandemic,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters.
“I cannot think of a better way to spend our Committee’s time than these legislative solutions to help American families during and beyond this pandemic,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters.

Yet the HEROES Act has yet to gain bipartisan support, and GOP members have derided the bill as a "liberal wish list." Instead, Senate Republicans are debating a more middle-of-the-road stimulus package to provide relief following the passage in March of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Republicans are reportedly considering legislation that would make it easier for businesses to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness and enable student loan borrowers to defer payments.

McHenry wrote a letter to Waters last week asking her to cancel the hearing, noting that the HEROES Act did not even have Democrats’ unanimous support and that two Democrats on the committee, Reps. Cindy Axne of Iowa and Ben McAdams of Utah, voted against the legislation.

“Highlighting bills that have no chance of becoming law only exacerbates the anguish experienced by the nearly 18 million Americans who are officially unemployed and the 33 million who are currently receiving unemployment benefits,” McHenry said.

Waters rejected claims that the committee has been acting in a “purely partisan” manner in continuing to push the HEROES Act.

“Respectfully, that is plainly false,” Waters said. “In fact, I am proud that from the outset of this pandemic when we were first navigating the difficulties of continuing our important work without meeting in person, this Committee held nine bipartisan phone briefings. We then worked together to convene fully bipartisan virtual roundtables; at a time, I might add, when many other Committees were unable to cooperate on a bipartisan basis.”

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