The Senate took its first big step Thursday to pass the Democrats’ $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus bailout as lawmakers seek to break a deadline to prevent unemployment benefits from running out.
The board voted to start a debate on the bailout and set the stage for its approval earlier this weekend. Vice President Kamala Harris had to break a 50:50 tie after a party line in the evenly divided Senate.
A tricky process awaits as Senate Republicans who oppose more stimulus spending have tools to delay a final vote on the 628-page bill by hours or even days.
- The process coordination begins with a debate on the plan of up to 20 hours. Senators may not use all of the time.
- The debate will not start immediately. Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson forced Senate officials to read the massive laws out loud, which will take at least a few hours. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said the move would “only delay the inevitable”.
- At the end of the discussion phase, the Senate will vote on an indefinite number of amendments to the bill as part of the budget comparison, which enables legislation to be passed with a simple majority. Republicans are expected to use amendments to force Democrats into politically sensitive votes and drag out the process.
“No matter how long it takes, the Senate will remain in session this week to finalize the bill,” Schumer said on Thursday.
Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., Attends a Joint Hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs and Senate Rules and Administration Committees on Capitol Hill, Washington, on February 23, 2021, to discuss the May 6 attack on the Capitol Investigate January.
Erin Scott | Pool | Reuters
After the Senate passes the plan, the House plans to approve it by the middle of next week. Democrats want the legislation to be brought to President Joe Biden’s desk before March 14, when a $ 300 weekly unemployment insurance increase and benefit-expansion programs to an additional million people officially expire.
Democrats could pass the bill in the Senate themselves, with Harris breaking a tie.
Republicans have criticized the level of spending as Covid-19 vaccinations spike and the country draws closer to reopening in the coming months.
Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said Thursday his problem with the plan was “how poorly this bill is doing what Americans need right now.”
Democrats said the proposal will both boost Americans, who struggle for housing and food after nearly a year of economic restrictions, and prevent future economic troubles once the country resumes normal activities. The party, which must keep every member on board to get the bill through the Senate, discussed a number of last-minute changes to address concerns.
The Democrats’ plan provides a weekly unemployment benefit of $ 400 per week through August 29, and expands programs to allow more people to be eligible for unemployment benefits by the same date. Some Democratic senators had urged that the benefits either be maintained for an extended period or that the additional payment amount be reduced to $ 300 per week.
To gain support from moderate Democrats, party leaders also agreed to limit the number of people receiving direct payments to as much as $ 1,400. New income caps could mean at least 8 million people fewer checks than under the law the House passed on Saturday.
The Senate also removed a provision passed by the House of Representatives to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour by 2025. The Chamber’s legislature, ruled by Parliament, could not do this in the context of the budget vote.
Other changes to the house bill include an increase in the employee loyalty tax credit, an increase in COBRA health insurance subsidies, and increased funding for critical infrastructure and rural health care, according to NBC News.
Democrats considered changing to ensure that more of the $ 350 billion pool went to state, local, and tribal government to small states.
Legislation also provides $ 20 billion for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, extends the child tax credit by one year, and provides an additional $ 20 billion in rent and utilities.
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