US House on verge of approving Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid bill

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US House on verge of approving Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid bill
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Washington, February 26

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The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives will intention to go President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill on Friday in what could be the primary main legislative victory of his presidency.

A spirited and probably lengthy debate was anticipated, as most Republicans oppose the price of the bill that might pay for vaccines and different medical provides to battle a COVID-19 pandemic that has killed greater than 500,000 Americans and thrown tens of millions out of work.

The measure would additionally ship a brand new spherical of emergency monetary aid to households, small companies and state and native governments.

A gaggle of Senate Republicans had provided Biden a slimmed-down different, however the White House and a few economists insist a giant bundle is required.

Biden has targeted his first weeks in workplace on tackling the best public well being disaster in a century, which has upended most elements of American life.

Democrats management the House by a 221-211 margin, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is counting on practically all of her rank and file to get the bill handed earlier than sending it to a 50-50 Senate the place Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.

Embedded within the House bill is a federal minimal wage improve, which might be the primary since 2009 and would progressively bump it as much as $15 an hour in 2025 from the present $7.25 price.

But the longer term of the wage hike was solid into doubt on Thursday, when the Senate parliamentarian dominated that it couldn’t be allowed below the Senate’s “reconciliation” guidelines that govern the huge bill.

The particular guidelines enable the laws to advance within the Senate with a easy majority of the 100 senators, as an alternative of the 60 wanted for many laws.

The $15 minimal wage determine had already confronted opposition within the Senate from most Republicans and at the very least two Democrats, which might have been sufficient to sink the plan. An array of senators are speaking a few smaller improve, within the vary of $10 to $12 per hour.

In a press release after the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling, Pelosi mentioned: “House Democrats believe that the minimum wage hike is necessary. Therefore, this provision will remain in the American Rescue Plan on the Floor tomorrow.”

‘WHAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS’

In arguing for passage of the reduction bill, Pelosi cited opinion polls indicating the help of a big majority of Americans who’ve been battered by the year-long pandemic.

“It’s about putting vaccinations in the arm, money in the pocket, children in the schools, workers in their jobs,” Pelosi informed reporters on Thursday, including: “It’s what this country needs.”

Among the big-ticket objects within the bill are $1,400 direct funds to people, a $400-per-week federal unemployment profit by Aug. 29 and assist for these having difficulties paying their hire and residential mortgages throughout the pandemic.

An array of enterprise pursuits even have weighed in behind Biden’s “America Rescue Plan” Act.

Republicans have criticized the laws as a “liberal wish-list giveaway” that fails to dedicate sufficient cash to reopening colleges which have been partially working with “virtual” studying throughout the pandemic.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy complained it was “too costly, too corrupt.”

While Republicans for months have blocked a brand new spherical of aid to state and native governments, McCarthy mentioned he was open to his house state of California getting some of the bill’s $350 billion in funding, regardless of a onetime $15 billion funds surplus.

Efforts to craft a bipartisan coronavirus aid bill fizzled early on, shortly after Biden was sworn in as president on Jan.

20, following a sequence of bipartisan payments enacted in 2020 that totalled round $4 trillion. — Reuters

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