Biden scores legislative win as House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan

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President Joe Biden scored his first legislative win as the House of Representatives handed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package deal early Saturday, although Democrats face challenges to their hopes of utilizing the invoice to boost the minimal wage.

Democrats who management the chamber handed the sweeping measure by a largely party-line vote of 219 to 212 and despatched it on to the Senate, the place Democrats deliberate a legislative maneuver to permit them to go it with out the help of Republicans.

The American Rescue Plan would pay for vaccines and medical provides and ship a brand new spherical of emergency monetary help to households, small companies and state and native governments. The invoice’s big-ticket objects embody $1,400 direct funds to people, a $400-per-week federal unemployment profit via Aug. 29, and assist for these in issue paying rents and residential mortgages in the course of the pandemic.

In transient remarks on Saturday from the White House’s Roosevelt Room, Biden mentioned he referred to as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to thank her for her help and urged the Senate to take up the invoice rapidly.

“I hope it will receive quick action. We have no time to waste,” Biden mentioned, with out taking questions. “The people of this country have suffered far too much for far too long.”

Democrats mentioned the package deal was wanted to combat a pandemic that has killed greater than 500,000 Americans and thrown hundreds of thousands out of labor.

“The American people need to know that their government is there for them,” Pelosi mentioned in a debate on the House flooring.

Republicans, who’ve broadly backed earlier COVID-19 spending, mentioned a lot of the present package deal was not obligatory, highlighting parts such as a subway close to Pelosi’s San Francisco district. Only 9% of the entire would go straight towards combating the virus, they mentioned.

“It just throws out money without accountability,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy mentioned.

Democrats pointed to a current Quinnipiac University ballot displaying 68% of Americans supported the package deal, together with 47% of Republicans, with simply 37% of Republicans opposing it.

“This critical legislation has support from Americans across the country and the political spectrum, and yet Republicans in Congress are trying to stand in the way,” mentioned Jamie Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The House vote amounted to a profitable first take a look at for Democrats, who maintain a slender 221-211 majority within the chamber. Progressives and moderates within the celebration who are sometimes at odds will face harder battles forward on immigration and local weather change initiatives that Biden desires to push.

The president has centered his first weeks in workplace on tackling the best U.S. public well being disaster in a century, which has upended most elements of American life.

Democrats purpose to get the invoice to him to signal into regulation earlier than mid-March, when enhanced unemployment advantages and another sorts of help are as a consequence of expire.

The motion now strikes to the Senate, the place Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris could need to forged a tie-breaking vote in a chamber the place Republicans management 50 seats and Democrats and their allies management the opposite 50.

FATE OF MINIMUM WAGE HIKE UNCLEAR

Democrats must type out how one can deal with a proposed minimum-wage improve, which can need to be stripped from the invoice as a result of sophisticated guidelines that govern the Senate.

The House-passed invoice would increase the nationwide hourly minimal wage for the primary time since 2009, to $15 from $7.25. The improve is a high precedence for progressive Democrats.

However, the Senate’s guidelines skilled mentioned on Thursday that the wage hike didn’t qualify for particular therapy that permits the remainder of the invoice to be handed with a easy majority, moderately than the 60 votes wanted to advance most laws within the 100-seat chamber.

Pelosi predicted the relief invoice will go Congress with or with out the rise, and mentioned Democrats wouldn’t hand over on the matter.

It is just not clear whether or not the minimum-wage hike would have survived the Senate even when it had been to be stored within the invoice. At least two Senate Democrats oppose it, together with most Republicans.

Some senators are floating a smaller improve, to the vary of $10 to $12 per hour, whereas Democrats are contemplating a penalty for giant companies that don’t voluntarily pay a $15 wage, in line with a Democratic aide.

Efforts to craft a bipartisan coronavirus help invoice fizzled early on, shortly after Biden was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, following a collection of bipartisan payments enacted in 2020.

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