House Democrats plan to pass $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill on Friday

House Democrats plan to pass $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill on Friday
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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House Democrats have announced they plan to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill by Friday, ahead of the expiration of unemployment benefits in March. 

The stimulus relief package is set to include $1,400 in direct payments to most Americans, a $400 per week jobless benefit supplement and an extension of programs that provide millions more Americans with eligibility for unemployment insurance. In addition, the bill adds $20 billion for the COVID-19 vaccination plan, an additional $50 billion for testing, and a total of $350 billion for relief for state, local and tribal governments.

“The American people strongly support this bill, and we are moving swiftly to see it enacted into law,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, said in a statement on Tuesday. 

According to CNBC, the plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 may not make the final version of the bill. 

Democrats are attempting to pass the legislation through budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority in a Senate divided along party lines. The Democrats argue that there is no time for them to develop a bipartisan bill with Republicans, due to the urgency of the expiring provisions currently afforded to Americans.

House Republicans have pushed back against the nearly $2 trillion dollar bill, which they argue serves as a wishlist for progressives. Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that “a lot within this bill is a waste or a wishlist from the progressives.” 

As of early February, over 18 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits. CNBC reports that more than 150 CEOs in New York have called for an urgent passage of the relief plan, stating, “more must be done to put the country on a trajectory for a strong, durable recovery.” 

The bill will be advanced on Friday morning through the House Rules Committee, and then to the full chamber. Democrats intend to send the legislation to the Senate later in the day. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has expressed optimism for the bill’s passage, which he intends to send to President Joe Biden before March 14. A number of programs, including unemployment benefits and an expansion of insurance for gig workers and self-employed individuals, are set to formally expire on the date.

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