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The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed “The American Rescue Plan” by a vote of 219-212 early Saturday morning, sending the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill championed by President Joe Biden over to the Senate.
The stimulus bill passed with unanimous Republican opposition, and two Democrats — Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon — also voted against it.
If enacted, the legislation would extend the unemployment insurance booster checks, giving an extra $400 per week to recipients until August — up from $300 per week — and $350 billion for states, local governments, and tribal governments, according to The New York Times. The legislation would also provide $200 billion for schools across the country and $50 billion for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, contact tracing, and COVID-19 testing.
Stimulus checks, which Biden vowed to include, have also made another appearance. Under the plan, individuals who earn less than $75,000 per year, and couples earning less than $150,000 per year would qualify for $1,400 stimulus checks. These checks would be provided on top of the recent $600 checks Congress recently provided, and the latest round of them would cost $422 billion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan organization that provides spending estimates for legislation, The Washington Post reported.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) slammed the stimulus bill in a Fox News op-ed early Friday morning and encouraged people to call the legislation a “Pelosi Payoff” instead of a COVID-19 relief bill due to the quantity of unrelated spending inside of it:
When you add it all up, the price tag of Democrats’ bill is jaw-dropping. At $1.9 trillion, it is the single most expensive bill in history. But don’t call it a rescue or relief bill. Call it a Pelosi Payoff. Because the amount of money that actually goes to funding public health is less than nine percent. This is not a serious attempt to fix the real problems of the American people.
The solution America needs is one that will get us on a path back to normal. We need blue state governors to lift their non-science-based lockdowns. We need schools to reopen, students back in the classroom and breadwinners back to work.
We need to continue to increase our vaccine distribution, so we can continue to control cases and ultimately destroy the virus.
That is what the American people need, what they want, and what they deserve. But the Democrats’ bill won’t accomplish this, and instead will result in families, children and small businesses continuing to get left behind, saddled with a debt they cannot afford, all for the sake of an agenda they never voted for.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called it a “spectacular piece of legislation,” according to NBC News.
The passage of the bill in the House marks a significant step forward for the Biden administration’s first major piece of legislation. The proposal, however, will still likely undergo some changes in the Senate, specifically on the minimum wage hike. The Senate parliamentarian ruled on Thursday that the minimum wage hike could not remain in the proposal as written if it were passed through the reconciliation process, which Democrats will have to do in order to ensure a veto-proof simple majority. Pelosi, however, committed to keeping it in the House-passed bill, calling it “necessary.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the budget chairman, said he would try to include a work-around for the wage hike — in the form of revoking tax deductions for large companies that don’t pay a $15 minimum wage — but it’s unclear what that would look like. Other far-left lawmakers, such as Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), have called for the Senate parliamentarian to be overruled, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has called for the Senate parliamentarian to be replaced.
I’m sorry—an unelected parliamentarian does not get to deprive 32 million Americans the raise they deserve.
This is an advisory, not a ruling. VP Harris needs to disregard and rule a $15 minimum wage in order.
We were elected to deliver for the people. It’s time we do our job. https://t.co/rraVhT5GV7
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) February 26, 2021
Every option needs to be on the table to pass a $15 minimum wage, whether it’s overruling an unelected parliamentarian or ending the filibuster.
We told people we would deliver. 27 million workers are waiting for us to deliver. And now we must deliver. https://t.co/8USGTDanyH
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) February 26, 2021
Abolish the filibuster.
Replace the parliamentarian.
What’s a Democratic majority if we can’t pass our priority bills? This is unacceptable.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 26, 2021
The White House, however, has signaled that they are willing to move the legislation forward without including the original wage hike, which would have increased the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour over several years.
“[President Joe Biden] will work with leaders in Congress to determine the best path forward because no one in this country should work full time and live in poverty,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “He urges Congress to move quickly to pass the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1,400 rescue checks for most Americans, funding to get this virus under control, aid to get our schools reopened and desperately needed help for the people who have been hardest hit by this crisis.”
It’s unclear whether the White House would agree to a work-around minimum wage hike, such as the Sanders idea, even if the work-around was found to comport with the Senate rules. According to Roll Call, Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) is working on an alternative plan that would impose a 5% payroll penalty for large corporations that don’t pay a certain amount. “We couldn’t get in the front door or the back door, so we will try to go through the window,” Wyden said of his work-around.
The House would need to approve any changes to the proposal made if the Senate were to pass an altered version of the bill, meaning another House vote would take place before Biden could sign any legislation.