The House could vote by the end of this week on a third coronavirus relief program that would send a series of $ 1,400 stimulus checks to millions of Americans during the pandemic.
The House budget committee will review the 591-page bill on Monday, based on proposals from at least nine committees, and develop a plan for Congress. The House will then vote on the bill, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says could take place at the end of this week, before going to the Senate the following week.
“We are working as quickly and quickly as possible,” said House Budget Speaker John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Kentucky, according to Politico. “We will send it to the Senate and see what happens.
Democrats hope to pass the stimulus deal by March 14, when the weekly unemployment benefits of $ 300 approved in the December coronavirus package expire. This timeline has added to the desire of lawmakers to use the reconciliation process, which allows for an “expedited review” of spending, tax and debt legislation.
Reconciliation would also allow Democrats to bypass the 60-vote requirement to move legislation forward without obstruction. Instead, as part of the process, they could pass the deal by simple majority – paving the way for the bill to pass without the need for Republican votes.
The proposal could face difficulties in the Senate because to pass the legislation without GOP support all Democrats must vote for it. The US Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats; Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tiebreaker, giving Democrats a slim majority in the chamber.
One of the main points of contention is whether raising the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour could be included in the reconciliation process. President Joe Biden has reportedly told a group of governors and mayors that he believes the increase in the minimum wage would not qualify as part of the reconciliation and would instead require 60 votes, Politico reported.
Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, told The Hill last week that he does not support a minimum wage of $ 15 and that he “ basically supports having something responsible and reasonable, ” which he defined as a minimum wage of $ 11 at home. State.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, has spoken out against including the minimum wage hike in the reconciliation process.
“The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process. It is not a budget item. And that shouldn’t be in there, ”Sinema said, according to Politico.
House Republicans have urged their members not to vote for the bill, saying “people don’t work,” Politico reported.
“We’re definitely going to lay out how it’s the wrong plan at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons,” said Republican Jason Smith, a Republican leader and Republican from Missouri on the House Budget Committee. “We will highlight all the different elements of this legislation that are bad for the working class.”
What is in the new proposal?
The most recent stimulus bill includes $ 1,400 in direct payments for people earning up to $ 75,000 per year and married couples earning up to $ 150,000 per year – the same income thresholds in the plan. Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion emergency released in January. The new plan calls for a faster phase-out than in previous proposals, capping payments at $ 100,000 for individuals and $ 200,000 for couples.
The House bill would expand the pandemic unemployment assistance and emergency pandemic compensation programs until August 29 and increase weekly federal benefits from $ 300 to $ 400.
About 11.4 million workers could lose their unemployment benefits between March 14 and April 11 unless Congress passes the bill before the mid-March deadline, according to a Century Foundation study .
The proposal also includes:
approximately $ 19.1 billion for state and local governments
increase the child tax credit to $ 3,600 for children under 6 and to $ 3,000 for children under 18
nearly $ 130 billion for K-12 schools to help reopen schools
$ 15 billion for Small Business Administration’s Disaster Low Interest Loans Emergency Loan Program
$ 25 billion for subsidies to bars and restaurants
$ 14 billion for vaccine distribution, research and administration
$ 46 billion for research, testing and contact mitigation
Some Republicans balked at the cost of the package and called for more “targeted” relief for families during the pandemic, while others called the $ 1.9 trillion proposal “totally partisan”.
“Any other action must be smart and focused, not just an imprecise deluge of borrowed money that would direct huge sums to those who don’t need it,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican of Kentucky.
Speaking of the Democrats’ willingness to move the bill forward through reconciliation, McConnell said earlier this month: “We’re off to a fully partisan start. I think it’s unfortunate.
Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said last month in conversation with White House officials that she suggested lowering the income cap for direct stimulus payments to lower the price of the project of law.
“I was the first to raise this issue, but there seems to be a lot of agreement… that these payments need to be more targeted,” Collins said, according to Politico. “I would say I don’t know how the administration came up with the $ 1.9 trillion figure for the package.”
Biden urged Republicans to support the relief deal.
“Critics say my plan is too big, costing $ 1.9 trillion,” Biden said Friday during a speech in Michigan. “Let me ask them: what would they have me cut? What would they make me forget? Shouldn’t we invest 20 billion dollars to vaccinate the nation? Should we not be investing $ 290 million to extend unemployment insurance to the 11 million Americans who are unemployed so they can get by?