The House has approved a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief invoice in a win for President Joe Biden
The new president’s vision for flushing money to individuals, companies, cities and states battered by COVID-19 passed on a near party-line 219-212 vote. That ships the massive step to the Senate, where Democrats appear bent on resuscitating their minimum wage push and struggles could erupt over state aid and other problems.
Democrats said the still-faltering economy and also the half-million American lives lost compulsory quick, decisive action. GOP lawmakers, they said, were out of step by a public that polling shows largely views the bill favorably.
“I’m a happy camper tonight,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., stated Friday. “This is exactly what America needs. Republicans, you ought to be part of the. But if you are not, we’re going without you.”
Republicans said the bill was too pricey and stated too many instruction dollars would be spent fast to instantly reopen schools. They said it was laden with presents to Democratic constituencies like labor unions and funneled cash to Democratic-run states they indicated didn’t need it since their budgets had dropped back.
“To my colleagues who say this bill is daring, I say it is bloated,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “To those who say it is urgent, I say it’s unfocused. To people who say it is popular, I say it is entirely partisan.”
Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of both Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the only two lawmakers to cross party lines.
The battle is also emerging as an early evaluation of Biden’s ability to hold together his party’s delicate diplomatic majorities — just 10 votes in the House and an equally divided 50-50 Senate.
At the exact same time, Democrats were attempting to work out the way to assuage progressives who dropped their top priority in a jarring Senate setback Thursday.
That room’s nonpartisan parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, stated Senate rules require that a national minimum wage increase would have to be dropped in the COVID-19 invoice, leaving the proposal on life support. The measure would slowly lift that minimal to $15 hourly by 2025, doubling the current $7.25 flooring in effect since 2009.
Hoping to revive the effort in some form, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is considering adding a provision to the Senate version of the COVID-19 relief bill which would punish big businesses which don’t pay employees at least $15 an hour,” said a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to go over internal conversations.
This was in line with thoughts floated Thursday night by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a primary sponsor of the $15 program, and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to boost taxes on corporations which don’t hit particular minimal wage goals.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., provided encouragement, too, predicting a minimal wage increase”a fiscal requirement for our families, a great stimulus for our economy and also a moral imperative to our country.” She said the House could”absolutely” accept a final version of this relief bill due to its widespread benefits, even if it lacked progressives’ treasured aim.
While Democratic leaders were keen to sign to rank-and-file progressives and liberal voters that they would not return on the minimum wage fight, their pathway was uncertain due to GOP resistance and concerns over whether they had enough Democratic support.
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., sidestepped a question on taxing businesses that don’t boost cover, saying of Senate Democrats,”I hesitate to say anything until they decide on a plan.”
Progressives were demanding that the Senate press ahead anyway on minimum wage increase, even though it meant changing that chamber’s rules and eliminating the filibuster, a tactic that requires 60 votes to get a bill to move forward.
“We’re going to need to overhaul the filibuster because we have to be able to deliver,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a innovative leader.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., yet another high-profile progressive, said Senate rules have to be changed, telling colleagues that if Democrats meet their constituents,”We can not tell them that this did not get done because of an unelected parliamentarian.”
Traditionalists of both parties — including Biden, who functioned as a senator for 36 years — have opposed eliminating filibusters because they protect parties’ interests when they’re in the Senate minority. Biden said months ago that he did not expect the minimum wage growth to endure the Senate’s rules.
Pelosi, also, seemed to shy away from dismantling Senate procedures, saying,”We will seek an answer consistent with Senate rules, and we’ll do this soon.”
The House COVID-19 bill comprises the minimum wage growth, so the real battle over its destiny will happen when the Senate strikes its version during the following two weeks.
The overall relief bill would provide $1,400 payments to individuals, extend emergency unemployment benefits through August and increase tax credits for kids and federal subsidies for health insurance.
Additionally, it provides billions for universities and colleges, state and local authorities, COVID-19 vaccines and testing, renters, food producers and struggling businesses like airlines, restaurants, pubs and concert venues.
Democrats are pushing against the relief step through Congress under special rules that will let them avoid a Senate GOP filibuster, meaning that should they are united they will not require any Republican votes.
Additionally, it lets the invoice move quicker, a top priority for Democrats that want the invoice on Biden’s desk before the most recent emergency jobless benefits finish on March 14.
But the same Senate rules prohibit provisions with just an”incidental” impact on the national budget as they are chiefly driven by additional policy functions. MacDonough decided that the minimum wage provision failed that test.
Republicans oppose the $15 minimum wage goal as an expense that would harm businesses and cost jobs.