The House intends to pass coronavirus alleviation law within two weeks as Democrats move forward in the process that will allow them to approve a bailout package without Republican votes, House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said on Friday.
The Senate passed a budget decision early Friday after a marathon of votes on dozen of amendments. The House followed an almost partisan vote that afternoon and launched the process of reconciliation that would allow President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion bailout to get through the Democratic Senate by a simple majority.
“On Monday we will start working on the details of the bill,” Pelosi told reporters after meeting with the Chairs of the Biden Committee and the Democratic House in the White House. House Majority Whip James Clyburn, DS.C., said he will have the votes to pass despite some concerns within the party about his costs.
Vice President Kamala Harris attends a swearing-in ceremony with Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. And Alex Padilla, D-Calif. In the Old Senate Chamber in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, on Feb. 4 2021.
Greg Nash | Reuters
The Democrats passed budget resolution 51-50 in the evenly split Senate when Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first casting vote. The vote on the party line after around 15 hours of examining politically sensitive amendments underscores the divide in Congress over the structure of the next aid package.
“I am so grateful that our caucus stayed together in unity,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., after the vote. “We had no choice given the problems America is facing and the desire to move forward. And we have moved forward.”
He claimed “this was a bipartisan activity” as the chamber had accepted several amendments from senators from both parties.
While President Joe Biden said he hoped to win Republican support for the relief plan, Democrats have begun creating the framework to get the proposal passed as soon as possible without GOP support. Without reconciliation, the Democrats would have to win over 10 Republicans in a 50:50 split in the Senate.
After new data showed the US created just 49,000 jobs in January, Biden said he wanted to work with Republicans but the party was “just not ready to go as far as I think we have to go”. He said he had an “easy choice” between passing a bill with Democrats now or “being stuck in lengthy negotiations.”
President Joe Biden speaks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a meeting with Democratic leaders and Chairs of House committees dealing with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Legislation at February 5, 2021 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.
Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
The budget resolution instructs the committees to pass legislation mirroring Biden’s Covid bailout package while falling below the $ 1.9 trillion target. Among other things, Democrats want to adopt:
- $ 1,400 direct payments
- Unemployment benefit of $ 400 per week through September
- $ 350 billion for state, local, and tribal government
- A national Covid vaccination program worth $ 20 billion
- $ 50 billion for virus testing
- $ 170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions
- A $ 30 billion rental and utility fund
Some Democrats, like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who may himself sink a bill in the Senate, have raised concerns about the scope of the proposal and called for more restrictions on receiving the $ 1,400 checks. While Biden said he would support limiting deposits to lower income levels, “I’m not reducing the size of the checks.”
Several amendments were passed during the Senate vote, although many were vague and it was not clear how they would affect the final legislation. They included a measure to prevent high-income people from receiving stimulus checks, one to set up a restaurant grant program, and one to ban tax increases for small businesses during the pandemic.
An additional amendment that was passed aims to prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving direct payments. A separate measure that failed and targeted New York without naming it would have limited funding to states under investigation for inadequate reporting of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.
Democrats have said they couldn’t afford to wait for law to pass if talks with Republicans over a bipartisan plan fail to bring about a breakthrough. You said it would take nearly $ 2 trillion in spending to both contain the pandemic and prevent future economic problems.
Republicans offered Biden a $ 618 billion counter-proposal, arguing that Congress could cap additional spending after passing a $ 900 billion relief bill in December. A group of GOP lawmakers who met with Biden on Monday sent him a letter Thursday questioning the amount of school funding in his plan and commending him for considering raising the income cap for stimulus Lower checks.
In the meantime, some lawmakers have urged the White House to break its plan down into smaller pieces to ensure bipartisan support for parts of it. The House Problem Solvers Caucus, made up of 56 members from both parties, called on Friday for a swift vote on a $ 160 billion bill related to vaccine distribution.
The Biden government has announced that it will not split the aid laws.
Democrats hope to have a bailout package through March 14 when a $ 300-a-week unemployment allowance approved in December expires.
“Next week the committees will begin drafting the detailed legislative text for the Biden American Rescue Plan so we can finish our work well before unemployment benefits expire,” said John Yarmuth, chairman of the House Budget Committee, D-Ky., In a Statement on Friday. “The Committee on Budgets looks forward to receiving the committees’ legislation by February 16 and then preparing the measure for the minimum amount audit.
Over the summer, Congress missed a deadline to extend the $ 600 a week unemployment benefit it had passed in March. It added to the financial pain and hunger felt across the country in the months that followed.
After the White House meeting, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Cited last year’s belated reaction as a reason not to wait now.
“We waited a long time and a lot of people were injured,” he said.
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