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Biden calls for swift action on COVID relief package: “We have no time to waste”


President Biden urged the Senate to act quickly to pass his US bailout, hours after the House tightly approved the $ 1.9 trillion legislation. In brief remarks on Saturday morning, Mr Biden said he spoke to President Nancy Pelosi about the passage of the bill.

“Now the bill is moving through the United States Senate, where I hope it will receive swift action. We have no time to waste,” Biden said. “If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally revive our economy. And the people of this country have suffered far too much for too long. We have to relieve him. pain. This is exactly what the US bailout does.

Two Democrats, Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Jared Golden of Maine, voted with Republicans in the 219-212 vote early Saturday morning. Not a Republican voted for the bill. The legislation includes $ 1,400 in direct checks for Americans earning less than $ 75,000, an additional unemployment bonus of $ 400 per week, money for the distribution of vaccines, and funding to help schools and local governments. States and local.

The House bill also includes a provision raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour by 2025, even though the Senate parliamentarian ruled the bill could not include an increase in the minimum wage. federal government if Congress uses the budget reconciliation process. Democrats in Congress chose to use the procedural maneuver known as budget reconciliation to pass the bill, allowing it to be approved by a simple majority in the Senate.

As a result of the parliamentarian’s decision, Senate Democrats are now race to finalize a new tax provision it would penalize large companies that pay low wages. The plan drafted by aides to Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon – in close consultation with Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders of Vermont – would impose a 5% tax penalty on “very large” businesses who do not pay workers a certain amount. .

Congressional Democrats hope to get the finalized package to Mr Biden’s office by mid-March, before several critical relief programs that were put in place by Congress late last year expire. .

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