WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As a new coronavirus relief bill emerged from the House, faith leaders across the country held an all-day virtual prayer vigil Tuesday to urge swift action.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined them to make Democrats’ case for the slimmed-down $2.2 trillion package, but Republicans continue to insist on a much smaller bill.
“One million human lives created in the image of God have been lost,” said Eugene Cho, the president of Bread for the World, a Christian anti-hunger organization.
Cho said the millions of Americans who are hungry, unemployed and homeless can’t wait until after the election for the next round of relief.
“We have to call our leaders, the White House, our Congress, to not be naïve and ignorant, or to simply play political games,” he said.
The faith groups’ priorities look similar to those in House Democrats’ new relief bill.
“So much of this is about money,” Pelosi said during the vigil.
“We cut back a lot of money to attract Republican support,” she continued. “It doesn’t mean we cut out any priorities.”
Pelosi said the legislation would provide aid to families, businesses, schools, restaurants and airline workers.
“Many of our colleagues claim to be people of faith and that they care about the dignity and worth of every person, and yet they won’t join us,” she said.
There is bipartisan agreement on the bulk of the package, but Republicans still won’t budge on several issues.
“There is no doubt that the Democratic Party wants a bailout for the blue cities and blue states,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN.
Blackburn pushed back against the extra $500 billion for state and local governments.
“It is not fair to the U.S. taxpayer and to those in states who have balanced budget amendments and have managed well,” she said.
The new bill has revived negotiations between Congress and the White House, but there is still a wide gap and very little time left before Election Day.