WASHINGTON D.C., DC — QUESTION:
Did Congress introduce the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities Act (CARES Act) in January of 2019 before the pandemic began?
No, a bill passed in the House in 2019. That bill was amended by the Senate and re-titled as the CARES Act.
Congress.gov- Congressional records
Congressional Research Service- "The Origination Clause of the U.S. Constitution: Interpretation and Enforcement"
Gary Nordlinger- Professor at George Washington University
An online post has gone viral, sharing a screenshot of Congress.gov, a website that tracks legislation, showing the CARES Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on Jan. 24, 2019. That’s more than a year before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, causing some confusion.
So we’re verifying if the CARES Act was really introduced by Congress in January 2019.
For this one, our Verify researchers looked at congressional records on congress.gov, a report by the Congressional Research Service and spoke with Gary Nordlinger, a professor at George Washington University.
The quick answer is no—and here’s why.
On Jan. 24, 2019, Rep. Joe Courtney (D- Conn.) introduced House Bill 748, called the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019.
"All revenue measures have to start in the House of Representatives under the Constitution, so they were able to take this thing as an avenue to advance a piece of legislation in the Senate," Nordlinger said.
That provision comes directly from the Constitution, Article I Section VII Clause 1: "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."
Basically, lawmakers took a bill that already existed in the House and changed it with amendments in the Senate.
"Oh its absolutely legal, there’s nothing sneaky going on here," Nordlinger said. "Something might pass the house and something entirely different can get attached to it in the Senate, that’s not at all unusual."
So we can verify that no, the CARES Act as we know it wasn’t introduced before the pandemic.