Fact check: Did the House add a recess provision to stimulus bill?
Editor's note: Trending Politics on May 19 issued a correction on the meme. However, the meme itself remains widely shared on social media.
The claim: House Democrats "snuck a provision into their $3 trillion bailout bill" that "keeps the House in recess through July 21," so House members are "refusing to go to work"
Late Friday, House Democrats approved a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package by a slim margin. Nearly all Republicans and 14 Democrats voted against it.
Shortly after its passage, a meme was widely circulated, by the page Trending Politics and others, that claimed the bill included a provision that keeps the House on recess for over two more months.
The meme questioned why Americans continued to pay members "$174,000+ salaries" while they are "refusing to go to work."
What did the legislation include?
The relief bill, HR 6800, also called the HEROES Act, would steer billions to financially strapped states and local governments and provide a second round of direct payments to millions of Americans.
It was panned by Senate Republicans and declared "dead on arrival" by President Donald Trump.
The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act — thus called, HEROES — does not have any language relating to House recess.
Earlier Friday, the House approved a resolution — HR 967 — that set forth the rules for debate on both the HEROES Act and a House Resolution 965, which allows for proxy voting.
The resolution did not include any language outlining an extended recess or adjournment of the House.
HR 967, which was introduced by House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., passed 207-199. It states that from May 19 to July 21, "on any legislative day" the chair may declare the House adjourned.
This is standard practice in House rules, which normally state that the speaker can authorize adjournment of House activities for a day. The House has no declared plans to conduct recess between May 19 and July 21. The HEROES Act also did not change rules around adjournment or recess proceedings.
The House had previously delayed its return from recess due to fears among Democratic leadership that resuming activities was unsafe amid the coronavirus pandemic. After delaying the return to Washington by a week, the House reconvened May 4.
The House has not announced any plans to declare recess or adjourn its activities through July 21.
Our ruling: False
The House has no announced plans to recess before the current session ends in late July. While House leadership maintains the power to change this in the coming weeks; this power is a well-established one in the body. The House recently changed its rules to allow for by-proxy voting in Congress, which would let members of Congress vote and continue activities away from the Capitol. We rate this claim FALSE because it is not supported by our research.
Our fact-check sources:
- USA TODAY, House passes $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan, faces pushback in Republican-led Senate
- USA TODAY, To stop coronavirus' spread, House members change rules to allow members to cast floor votes from home for first time
- House Resolution 965
- House Resolution 967
- House Resolution 6800
- A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House
- USA TODAY, House extends recess, Senate will reconvene Monday
USA TODAY reporter Ledyard King contributed to this report.
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