Democrats to move forward with $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan despite no GOP support

Democrat leaders have moved forward with their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan despite receiving no republican support.

President Joe Biden also reiterated his intention to include $1,400 direct checks in the package at the House Democratic Caucus meeting on Wednesday morning. The President’s plan includes the aforementioned $1,400 direct payments, federal unemployment payments of $400 a week, and $350 billion for state and local governments. The relief package would also include other campaign promises the President made such as a $15 dollar national minimum wage. However, the plan has faced opposition from the GOP, with many republicans expressing concerns for the package’s price tag.

The President has repeatedly stated that he would like to see some republican support for the bill and met on Monday with 10 GOP senators.  The group which included Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska proposed a $618 billion package which would include $1,000 direct payments, provide $20 billion for K-12 schools, another $20 billion for a national vaccine program but did not mention anything about state and local aid. One of the main components that is causing friction between the two sides is the issue of direct payments with some republicans and two democratic senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona raising concerns over direct payments.

They have expressed their interest in reducing the income level for full stimulus check eligibility to around $50,000 for single filers {down from the $75,000 level in Biden’s plan} in order to ensure that the payments are going to those on the lowest incomes. President Biden has signalled that he is willing to work on the issue stating “We can’t walk away from additional $1,400 in direct checks we proposed because people need, and frankly, they’ve been promised it. Maybe we can, I think, we can better target that number. I’m okay with that.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned the democrats that “we cannot dawdle, we cannot delay”, as himself and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi forged ahead by introducing budget resolutions in their respective chambers of congress, it’s important to note that the senate voted 50-49 along party lines to introduce the resolution.

The introduction of the budget resolution sets in motion a process with is known as “reconciliation”, this allows the party in control of congress to pass major spending bills with a simple 51-vote majority without having to deal with the filibuster. Reconciliation only applies to policies that will affect spending or revenue, and so the $15 an hour national minimum wage in Biden’s plan cannot be included if the democrats use reconciliation to pass the bill. With the democrats only holding control of the senate by the skin of their teeth it would seem that the only way to pass the stimulus package without bipartisan support is by using this process.




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