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House Democrats approve $1.9 trillion stimulus bill

Virus Outbreak
Posted at 2:04 AM, Feb 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-27 15:08:05-05

In a nearly party-line vote, House Democrats early Saturday morning approved President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package, which will now move to the Senate.

The final margin of the vote was 219-212, with two Democrats joining Republican in opposition of the bill.

Biden said in an address Saturday morning that he called Speaker Nancy Pelosi for getting the bill passed through the House.

"We have no time to waste," Biden said. "If we act now, decisively and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus, we can finally get our economy moving again, and the people of this nation has suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suffering. The American Rescue Plan does just that."

Although the House voted to approve the measure, the package will likely return to the House, assuming it is passed by the Senate. That is because late Thursday, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that a minimum wage hike could not be included in the bill if the Senate uses budget reconciliation to pass the bill.

Because Senate Democrats are using the budget reconciliation process to pass the bill in an effort to circumvent a Senate filibuster, only certain types of legislation can be used via budget reconciliation. Buried within the stimulus bill was a proposal to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 an hour by 2025.

Without budget reconciliation, such a dramatic increase to the minimum wage is almost certain to fail in the Senate given that 60 votes would be needed to bring the proposal to a vote.

The stimulus bill includes $1,400 checks for most Americans making less than $75,000 a year. It also includes $1,400 for eligible dependents. The proposal increases the child tax credit to $3,000 per year ($3,600 for children under age 6). And it extends enhanced unemployment benefits through September.

The bill also replenishes funds for small business grants, and adds nearly $130 billion for schools to retain staff and implement social distancing protocols.

Republicans have opposed the bill, claiming the bill does not provide “targeted” support.

"How much time do you have Mr. President to go through the litany of things in this bill that have nothing to do with COVID,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, said.

Democrats have countered that the package will stabilize the economy as the US hopes to exit the coronavirus pandemic later this year.

"We are still in a historic crisis of health of the economy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Biden will address the nation at 11 a.m. about the stimulus bill.