Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Tuesday that the Senate is on schedule to pass the coronavirus relief bill and deliver it to President Joe Biden for a signature before the enhanced unemployment benefits expire on March 14.
In a weekly press conference, Sen. Schumer said, “We’re going to meet that deadline.”
According to Fox News, over 18 million Americans are currently receiving jobless benefits, “including $300 in weekly enhanced federal unemployment benefits.” However, the “American Rescue Plan of 2021” includes $400 in enhanced unemployment. It would also continue pandemic unemployment programs through August 29.
Fox News reports,
The House Budget Committee authored its special budget reconciliation measure this week to handle the $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill. The measure then goes to the House Rules Committee, and a full House vote on the 600-page bill is expected Friday or Saturday.
The biggest point of contention in the bill is thought to be the $15 minimum wage. On Tuesday, Schumer reportedly did not answer questions on whether or not he would consider a lower number. According to aides, some Democrats are considering an $11 minimum wage.
Schumer said that he is going to wait to hear from the parliamentarian to see if the wage increase can be included in the budget reconciliation.
“We’re going to await her decision before we go any further,” he said, adding, “Bernie Sanders and I are arguing very strongly for $15 and for it to be reconcilable.”
However, there may not be as much hope in the Biden administration for the success of the minimum wage increase.
On Monday, The Daily Wire reported,
President Joe Biden privately admitted to Democrat mayors and governors last week that a planned hike in the federal minimum wage is “dead” and that it will not be included in the forthcoming COVID-19 relief bill, Politico reports.
Democrats had demanded that a gradual hike, ending at a $15 minimum wage across the country in 2025, be part of the Biden administration’s coronavirus relief package, already estimated to cost taxpayers in the range of $2 trillion.
But with few Republicans on board with passing yet another trillion-dollar bailout for the victims of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic lockdowns, Democrats may have no choice but to pass the bill through a process called “reconciliation,” which allows “budget-focused” legislation to pass by a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 votes required for sweeping changes to federal law.
As reported by The Hill, Schumer spoke to reporters after a call with the Senate Democratic caucus on Tuesday, saying, “I made a pitch today to our entire caucus and I said that we need to pass this bill. The American people, the American public demands it and everyone is going to have things that they want to see in the bill and we’ll work hard to see if we can get those things in the bill.”
After he was asked about Sen. Joe Manchin, a centrist Democrat from West Virginia, who has said he opposes the $15 minimum wage increase, Schumer stressed that “Job No. 1 is to pass the bill. Pass the bill we must. And I have confidence we will do it.”
Schumer can’t afford any Democrats to vote against the bill since there are not any Republicans that are expected to vote for it.
A reporter asked Schumer what he would do in order to make sure that he doesn’t lose any Democratic votes. Holding up his cellphone, the Senate Majority Leader responded, “This is my answer…I speak to my members all the time and I have a leadership that meets Monday night…We discuss it out and so far, so far, we’ve had great unity.”
He said, “With 50 votes we need our unity and we’re fighting to get it and so far, so good.”