House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) are attending a press conference on an agreement with a coronavirus disease package (COVID-19) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA December 20, 2020.
Ken Cedeno | Reuters
The Senate on Saturday passed a $ 1.9 billion coronavirus relief package while Democrats want to send a new relief.
The Democratic House plans to pass the bill Tuesday and send it to President Joe Biden for his signature before a March 14 deadline to renew unemployment benefits. The Senate approved the plan in a 50-49 party vote, as Republicans questioned the need for another broad spending package.
The legislation includes direct payments of up to $ 1,400 to most Americans, a $ 300-a-week boost to unemployment benefits in September and a one-year extension of the child tax credit. It also puts new funds into the distribution and testing of Covid-19 vaccines, rental assistance for struggling households and K-12 schools for reopening costs.
The package also includes $ 14 billion in wage support for U.S. airlines, the third-round federal aid to the industry, in exchange for not lowering or lowering workers’ wage rates until September 30. Air contractors were set aside $ 1 billion.
Senate approval brings Biden’s first legislative initiative closer to fruition. While the GOP and some economists have criticized the scale of the bailout package as the U.S. vaccination rate has increased, Democrats have said they need decisive action to prevent a sluggish recovery and future economic pain.
“We will end this terrible plague and we will travel again and send our children back to school and be together again,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said before the vote. “Our job right now is to help our country get from that stormy present to that hopeful future.”
Senators passed the bill through budget reconciliation, a process that requires no Republican support but every Democratic vote. Senate Democratic leaders had to wrestle diverse forces in their caucus to gain united support while trying to balance the need to keep almost all House Democrats on board to pass the plan next week.
A disagreement within the party halted the process for about 12 hours on Friday. Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia did not want to support his party’s proposal for unemployment assistance, sending leaders to come up with a compromise that could win his support and save the bill.
Democrats have decided on a plan to maintain the current $ 300 per week unemployment benefit increase through Sept. 6 while making the first $ 10,200 aid tax-free. The proposal adorned the $ 400 to August 29 weekly supplement.
The change – plus a separate Senate decision to limit the number of people receiving stimulus checks – posed the danger of pulling the progressives into the House. Biden endorses the unemployment agreement.
After the vote in the Senate, the president said the process “was not easy, it was not always beautiful, but it was so much needed.”
“This nation has suffered too much for too long,” he said. Biden estimates that direct payments of up to $ 1,400, which will also pay to U.S. dependents, will begin this month.
The final adoption of the bill follows a vote-a-rama, where senators have considered dozens of amendments to the package. Lawmakers, who sometimes slumber at their desks or put their heads in their hands, voted until Friday night to Saturday afternoon on changes.
Republicans picked up symbolic political votes, including failed amendments to ban direct payments to inmates or limit the amount of aid to states that reported unlawful deaths to nursing homes as a result of Covid-19 (which targeted New York).
The IDP paralyzed the relief package, describing it as a wasteful list of democratic priorities. Regular targets were the bill’s $ 350 billion in state, local and tribal aid, along with the $ 170 billion set aside for K-12 schools and higher education.
“This is not a pandemic rescue package. It’s a parade of left-wing pet projects they bump into during a pandemic,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday.
McConnell and others cite a stronger-than-expected report in February because they claim the U.S. does not need nearly $ 2 billion more. Nevertheless, the US employed about 8.5 million fewer people than in the previous year.
Biden mentions the need to sustain the recovery – along with the millions who will lose unemployment benefits without renewing the programs from the pandemic – to make his case for the right to emergency relief on Friday.
“Without a rescue plan, these profits are going to slow down,” he said. “We can not afford one step forward and two steps back.”
Proponents of the bill also point to the potential for reducing child poverty.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Said Saturday that the House plans to approve the version of the Senate bill Tuesday. Democrats won no Republican support in the House last week when they passed similar legislation.
House President Nancy Pelosi, D-California, nevertheless raised hopes for GOP support in a statement following the plan’s adoption by the Senate.
“The House now hopes to have a dual vote on this life-saving legislation and urges Republicans to join us in recognizing the devastating reality of this cruel virus and economic crisis and the need for decisive action,” she said. said.
After legally signing the rescue plan, Biden is expected to move to its economic recovery and infrastructure proposal. Nevertheless, Schumer did not again rule out a bill on pandemic if economic conditions are necessary.
“If they need more help, we’ll do another account,” he told reporters.