President Joe Biden scored his first legislative win as the House of Representatives handed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bundle early Saturday, although Democrats confronted challenges to their hopes of utilizing the invoice to lift the minimal wage.
Democrats who management the chamber handed the sweeping measure by a principally 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 move it with out the assist of Republicans.
The American Rescue Plan would pay for vaccines and medical provides and ship a brand new spherical of emergency monetary support to households, small companies and state and native governments.
Democrats stated the bundle was wanted to struggle 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,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated in debate on the House flooring.
Republicans, who’ve broadly backed earlier COVID-19 spending, stated a lot of the present bundle was not crucial, highlighting components like a subway close to Pelosi’s San Francisco district. Only 9% of the entire would go straight towards combating the virus, they stated.
“It just throws out money without accountability,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy stated.
The House vote amounted to a profitable first check 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 needs to push.
The president has targeted his first weeks in workplace on tackling the best US public well being disaster in a century, which has upended most facets of American life. Democrats intention to get the invoice to him to signal into legislation earlier than mid-March, when enhanced unemployment advantages and another sorts of support are as a consequence of expire.
The invoice’s big-ticket objects embody $1,400 direct funds to people, a $400-per-week federal unemployment profit by means of Aug. 29, and assist for these in issue paying rents and residential mortgages in the course of the pandemic.
The motion now strikes to the Senate, the place Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris might 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 minimal wage hike unclear
Democrats must kind out easy methods to deal with a proposed minimum-wage enhance, which can need to be stripped from the invoice because of the sophisticated guidelines that govern the Senate.
The House-passed invoice would elevate the nationwide hourly minimal wage for the primary time since 2009, to $15 from $7.25.
The enhance is a high precedence for progressive Democrats.
However, the Senate’s guidelines skilled stated on Thursday that the wage hike didn’t qualify for particular remedy that enables the remainder of the invoice to be handed with a easy majority, reasonably than the 60 votes wanted to advance most laws within the 100-seat chamber.
Pelosi predicted the relief invoice will move Congress with or with out the rise, and stated Democrats wouldn’t surrender on the matter.
It will not be 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 enhance, to the vary of $10 to $12 per hour, whereas Democrats are contemplating a penalty for giant firms that don’t voluntarily pay a $15 wage, in accordance with a Democratic aide.
Efforts to craft a bipartisan coronavirus support invoice fizzled early on, shortly after Biden was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, following a collection of bipartisan payments enacted in 2020.