The House approves a $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill.
The $1.9 trillion pandemic bill passes the House on nearly party-line vote.
WASHINTON (AP) – The House passed the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill in the early morning Saturday. Biden’s win leaves Democrats trying to assure progressives that they’d revive the minimum wage’s derailed boost.
Biden’s vision for flushing cash to individuals, businesses, states, and cities ravaged by COVID-19 passed near party-line 219-212 vote. The massive measure is sent to the Senate, where Democrats will try to resurrect the minimum wage push. Issues like state aid and others could erupt fights.
Democrats said the declining economy and the half-million lives lost demand quick, decisive action.
“I am a happy camper tonight,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said Friday. “This is what America needs. Republicans, you ought to be a part of this. But if you’re not, we’re going without you.”
Republicans said the bill is loaded with gifts to Democratic constituencies like labor unions and funnel money into Democratic-run states they suggested didn’t need it because their budgets had bounced back. The bill is too expensive, and the few education dollars would be quickly spent to reopen schools.
“To my colleagues who say this bill is bold, I say it’s bloated,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “To those who say it’s urgent, I say it’s unfocused. To those who say it’s popular, I say it is entirely partisan.”
The only Democrats to cross party lines were Rep Jared Golden (D-ME) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR).
The test of Biden’s ability to hold his party together with a fragile congression majority with just ten votes in the House and an evenly dived 50-50 Senate.
Democrats are trying to figure out how to appease progressives losing their top priority.
The chamber’s nonpartisan parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, said Senate rules require the federal minimum wage increase would have to be eliminated from the COVID-19 bill.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is considering a provision to the Senate version of the COVID-19 relief bill. Large companies would be penalized if the workers were not paid at least $15 per hour, said a senior Democratic aide who spoke to discuss internal conversations under the condition of anonymity.
The chief sponsor of the $15 per hour plan, Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) Senate Finance Committee Chair floated ideas to boost corporations’ taxes that don’t hit minimum wage targets.
Encouragement was offered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Calling minimum wage increase “a financial necessity for our families, a great stimulus for our economy and a moral imperative for our country. The House would “absolutely” approve a final version because of its benefits, even lacking progressives treasured goal.
“I hesitate to say anything until they decide on a strategy,” was the response from House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MS) when he asked what would happen to companies who don’t pay minimum wage targets.
Progressives demand the Senate press on anyway with the minimum wage increase. However, it would require changing chamber rules and eliminate the filibuster. A vote of 60 would be needed that to move forward.
“We’re going to have to reform the filibuster because we have to be able to deliver,” said Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-WASH), a progressive leader.
Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Senate rules must be changed. “We can’t tell them that this didn’t get done because of an unelected parliamentarian.”
Traditionalists of both parties have opposed eliminating filibusters because they protect the party’s interest when they are in the Senate minority.
Seeming to shy away from dismantling Senate procedures, Pelosi, saying, “We will seek a solution consistent with Senate rules, and we will do so soon.”
The minimum wage increase is included in the House COVID-19 bill, but the Senate will debate its version over the next two weeks.
Providing $1,400 payments to individuals, extending emergency unemployment benefits through August, and increase tax credits for children and federal subsidies for health insurance is the overall relief bill.
However, it does provide billions for schools and colleges, state and local governments, COVID-19 vaccines, and testing renters, food producers and airlines, restaurants, bars, and concert venues.
If the Democrats unite, they won’t need any Republican votes under special rules to avoid the Senate GOP filibuster.
Allowing the bill to move faster, Democrats top priority wanting the bill on Biden’s desk before the current emergency jobless benefits end on March 14.
The expense of the $15 minimum wage target would hurt businesses and cost jobs, the Republicans argue.