US House Democrats advance $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid bill

WASHINGTON DC – SEPTEMBER 23 House Minority Whip Steve Scalise

The U.S. Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats; Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tiebreaker, giving Democrats a narrow majority in the chamber.

"I feel as if we've worked the staff 24/7 for a number of weeks now to make sure that we stay on schedule with the American rescue plan, the Biden plan", she said.

The House is expected to vote on the legislation next week and Democrats hope the Senate can reach a vote before the current federal unemployment benefits run out in mid-March. Instead, under the process, they could pass the deal with a simple majority - paving a path for the bill to become law without needing any Republican votes. Under complex Senate rules for consideration of the legislation, lawmakers are now awaiting guidance from the Senate parliamentarian on whether the minimum wage provision can even be part of the package. Some Democratic Senators have signaled they're not comfortable with the bill.

He said he was open to proposals to make the package less expensive.

"The Senate is on track to send a robust $1.9 trillion package to the president's desk before the March 14 expiration of Unemployment Insurance benefits". Because the IRS is also processing tax returns, it could take longer to send stimulus checks depending on how quickly the IRS processes the money.

Speaking about Democrats' push to advance the bill through reconciliation, McConnell said: "We're off to a totally partisan start". Coming on top of $600 stimulus payments approved in December, that would make good on Biden's promises of $2,000 stimulus checks to voters. That includes support from three-quarters of independent voters, 2 in 5 Republicans and almost all Democrats.

For the moment, it includes a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Biden has already backed off one of the major components of the bill - raising the minimum wage to $15 - over concerns it may not comply with rules in the Senate to pass under reconciliation. The McConnell memo highlighted the minimum wage increase, among other issues.

Because the Senate is divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, Democrats can't afford to lose a single vote if they proceed without GOP support under "budget reconciliation".

The House is prepared to vote next week on Biden's massive package as GOP leadership is actively urging their members to reject the legislation they've dubbed a bloated progressive wish list.

It's not even clear that the minimum wage can legally be raised through the budget reconciliation process.



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