The House approved $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that was championed by President Joe Biden. It is the first step in giving another dose of aid to a weary nation as the measure now shifts to a tense Senate.
The now President’s vision for infusing cash across a struggling economy to individuals, schools, states, cities, and business battered by coronavirus passed on a near party-line 219-212 vote this early Saturday. That moves the bills to the Senate, where Democrats appear bent on resuscitating their minimum wage push and fights rise over state aid and other problems.
Democrats told mass unemployment and nearly half-million Americans lives lost are causes for quick, decisive action. They said, GOP lawmakers were out of step with a public that polling notices largely views the bill favourably.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. said Friday, “I am a content camper tonight. This is what we America needs. Republicans, you ought to be a part of this. However, if you’re not, we’re going without you.”
Republicans said the bill was very expensive and said too few education dollars would be spent quickly to instantly reopen schools. They said it was laden with gifts to Democratic constituencies such as labour unions and funnelled money to Democratic-run states they recommended didn’t need it as their budgets had bounced back.
The general relief bill would give $14000 to individuals, extend emergency unemployment benefits through Aug. and rise tax credits for children and federal subsidies for health insurance.
Also, it gives billions for colleges and schools, local and state government, coronavirus vaccines and testing, food producers, renters, and struggling industries such as airlines, bars, restaurants, and concert venues.
Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, they both were the only lawmakers to cross party lines. That partisan divide is making the conflict a showdown over whom voters will reward for stacking more federal spending to fight the COVID and improve the economy atop the $4 trillion approved previous year.
The conflict is also arising as an test of Biden’s potentiality to hold together his party’s weak congressional majorities.
At the same time, Democrats were attempting to finding out how to ease liberals who lost their top priority in a jarring Senate setback Thursday.
Elizabeth McDonough, that chamber’s nonpartisan parliamentarian, said Senate rules need that a federal minimum wage rise would have to be dropped from the COVID bill, leaving the proposal on life support. The measure will gently lift that minimum to $15 hour by 2025.
Expecting to revive the effort in some form, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y (Senate Majority Leader) is thinking of adding a provision to the Senate version of the coronavirus relief bill which would penalize big companies that don’t pay workers minimum $15 an hour, says a senior Democratic aide who suggest on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.
That was in line with ideas sailed Thursday by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to rise taxes on companies that don’t hit minimum wage targets.
However, their pathway was not clear due to GOP questions and oppositions over whether they had enough Democratic support.
Richard Neal, D-Mass., House Ways and Means Committee Chair, raised a question on penalizing companies that don’t raise pay, saying of Senate Democrats, “I don’t want to say anything until they decide on a strategy.”
Progressives were insisting that the Senate press forward anyway on the minimum wage boost, even if it meant changing that chamber’s policies and abolishing the filibuster, a tactic that needs 60 votes for a bill to move ahead.
Traditionalists of both parties, also Biden, who served as a senator for 36 years, are against abolishing filibusters as they protect parties’ interests when they are in the Senate minority. Biden said that he didn’t expect the minimum wage boost to survive the Senate’s rules. Democrats narrowly hold Senate in control.
Pelosi too appeared to oppose dismantling Senate procedures and says, “We will look for a solution consistent with Senate rules, and we will do so very soon.”
The House COVID bill consists the minimum wage boost, so the real fight over its fate will take place when the Senate debates its version over the next coming two weeks.
Democrats are shoving the relief measure through Congress under some special rules that will let them escape a Senate GOP filibuster. That means, if they come together they won’t need any Republican votes.
Also, it will let the bill move faster, a major priority for Democrats who want the bill on Biden’s desk before the recent emergency unemployment benefits end on 14th March.
Republicans are against the $15 minimum wage target as they believe that would hurt businesses and cost jobs.