House Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 4, 2021.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
The House plans to pass the Democrats’ $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Tuesday and provide fresh aid to Americans starting this month.
The chamber intends to approve the bailout package in time for President Joe Biden to sign it before major unemployment programs expire on Sunday. The Senate passed the law on Saturday.
The bill extends unemployment benefits by $ 300 a week through September 6 and sends direct payments of up to $ 1,400 to most Americans. The stimulus money will come into the accounts this month, Biden said on Saturday.
The bill also includes an extension to the child tax credit, assistance with rent payment, and funding for the distribution and testing of Covid-19 vaccines. It directs money to state, local, and tribal governments, as well as schools.
Democrats passed the bill in the evenly divided Senate without Republican support as part of the budget reconciliation. They are not expected to get votes from Republicans in the House as the GOP criticizes what it calls wasteful spending in the bill.
When the House passed a different version of the plan last month, no Republicans backed it and two Democrats opposed it. Despite the lack of GOP votes the first time around, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Is hoping for Republican support.
“The House is now hoping for a bipartisan vote on this life-saving legislation and urges Republicans to join us in recognizing the devastating reality of this vicious virus and economic crisis and the need for decisive action,” she said in a statement on Saturday.
While changes made to appease Conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia have been criticized by House progressives, the bill appears to be passing the House on Tuesday. The Senate bill limited the number of people receiving direct payments relative to the House plan by limiting income to $ 80,000 for individuals and $ 160,000 for joint applicants.
In addition, the unemployment benefit surcharge has been reduced from $ 400 on the house bill to $ 300. The policy runs for another week until September 6th.
After the Senate passed the changes, the House progressives signaled that they would vote for the revised plan.
“Despite the fact that we believe that weakening the rules of the House was bad policy and bad policy, the reality is that the final changes were relatively minor concessions,” said Pramila Jayapal, Chair of the Progressive Caucus of Congress, Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash in a statement Saturday. “The American bailout has retained its bold, progressive core elements originally proposed by President Joe Biden and included in the House aid package.”
Republicans criticized the Democrats for pursuing the aid package themselves. The GOP also targeted what it called lavish spending that was not needed to end the pandemic and fuel economic recovery.
Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Argued that the Democrats “wanted to impose unrelated policy changes that they couldn’t honestly pass”.
McConnell also cited a better-than-expected February job report as evidence that nearly $ 2 trillion in spending is unnecessary.
Biden and Democrats said the country needs stimulus spending to sustain economic gains and help the millions of people who are still receiving unemployment benefits or who cannot afford food or rent.
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