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Biden scores legislative win as House passes $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan

CoronavirusFeb 27, 2021 02:41AM ET
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3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Capitol dome is seen in Washington 2/3

By Richard Cowan and Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden scored his first legislative win as the House of Representatives passed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package early Saturday, though Democrats faced challenges to their hopes of using the bill to raise the minimum wage.

Democrats who control the chamber passed the sweeping measure by a mostly party-line vote of 219 to 212 and sent it on to the Senate, where Democrats planned a legislative maneuver to allow them to pass it without the support of Republicans.

The American Rescue Plan would pay for vaccines and medical supplies and send a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state and local governments.

Democrats said the package was needed to fight a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.

"The American people need to know that their government is there for them," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in debate on the House floor.

Republicans, who have broadly backed previous COVID-19 spending, said much of the current package was not necessary, highlighting elements like a subway near Pelosi's San Francisco district. Only 9% of the total would go directly toward fighting the virus, they said.

"It just throws out money without accountability," House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

The House vote amounted to a successful first test for Democrats, who hold a narrow 221-211 majority in the chamber. Progressives and moderates in the party who are often at odds will face tougher battles ahead on immigration and climate change initiatives that Biden wants to push.

The president has focused his first weeks in office on tackling the greatest U.S. public health crisis in a century, which has upended most aspects of American life.

Democrats aim to get the bill to him to sign into law before mid-March, when enhanced unemployment benefits and some other types of aid are due to expire.

The bill's big-ticket items include $1,400 direct payments to individuals, a $400-per-week federal unemployment benefit through Aug. 29, and help for those in difficulty paying rents and home mortgages during the pandemic.

The action now moves to the Senate, where Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris may have to cast a tie-breaking vote in a chamber where Republicans control 50 seats and Democrats and their allies control the other 50.

FATE OF MINIMUM WAGE HIKE UNCLEAR

Democrats will have to sort out how to handle a proposed minimum-wage increase, which may have to be stripped from the bill due to the complicated rules that govern the Senate.

The House-passed bill would raise the national hourly minimum wage for the first time since 2009, to $15 from $7.25. The increase is a top priority for progressive Democrats.

However, the Senate's rules expert said on Thursday that the wage hike did not qualify for special treatment that allows the rest of the bill to be passed with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes needed to advance most legislation in the 100-seat chamber.

Pelosi predicted the relief bill will pass Congress with or without the increase, and said Democrats would not give up on the matter.

It is not clear whether the minimum-wage hike would have survived the Senate even if it were to be kept in the bill. At least two Senate Democrats oppose it, along with most Republicans.

Some senators are floating a smaller increase, to the range of $10 to $12 per hour, while Democrats are considering a penalty for large corporations that do not voluntarily pay a $15 wage, according to a Democratic aide.

Efforts to craft a bipartisan coronavirus aid bill fizzled early on, shortly after Biden was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, following a series of bipartisan bills enacted in 2020.

Biden scores legislative win as House passes $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan
 

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Comments (9)
Casador Del Oso
Casador Del Oso Feb 28, 2021 2:56PM ET
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It sure seems to be taking a long time to move heaven and earth to approve this stimulus. Trump who?
Bill Melton
Bill Melton Feb 28, 2021 10:46AM ET
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Only 9% is actually covid related. Dems don't follow science or facts; they follow political ideology.Examples: They preach green energy. Ask California how that is working for them. They removed fossil fuels from their grid. Now they have people calling customers to see if they are using high amperage items during peak times. In addition, they have rolling blackouts. Guess what wind turbines need to operate? Lubricants from fossel fuel. How do they get turbines into location? Trains, which use diesel. Large trucks and cranes that use diesel. The dirty secret on wind turbines is that they are made of steel. Most steel in the world is made in basic oxygen furnaces, & most of those furnaces use coal as their heat source. Most wind turbines are made in Germany & China. Interesting how they forget about the ****of migratory birds.These people DON'T believe in science or helping people. They BELIEVE in political ideology.
RaJa Kayani
RaJa Kayani Feb 28, 2021 10:14AM ET
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Does this mean Doller will pick up pace next week?
Ramy Attalla
Ramy Attalla Feb 28, 2021 10:14AM ET
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I believe the stock market will go up while the dollar weakens a bit before another leg down in the stock while the dollar starts to pick up more steam as we aim to break 1.1950 in the EURUSD
Viking Fire
Viking Fire Feb 28, 2021 12:50AM ET
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Just two months ago trumps republicans attacked our capital ****5 with the intention to *******most of our represenatives which would have devistated america and likely made us less of a power than mexico. It is nice to have a proper president giving thePeople a win.
Mart Bab
Rubberduck1973 Feb 27, 2021 7:44AM ET
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It just throws out money without accountability," House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said.??? How is neglecting a pandemic in comparison? This capitalistic opportunistic man will only agree on a bill if the money in it is going toward his friends and himself. How on earth can people elect someone with this state of mind? Crazy
Mart Bab
Rubberduck1973 Feb 27, 2021 7:44AM ET
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I really think the USA should start acknowledging that the republicans party is for a great part a corruption party. They are just there to make shore tax payers money flow their way.
Joseph Armour
Joseph Armour Feb 27, 2021 7:44AM ET
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yes, lets ignore 70 million Americans and do everything your way
Viking Fire
Viking Fire Feb 27, 2021 7:44AM ET
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Joseph Armour news flash, 70 million americans srent as hateful and spiteful as you think. In fact, if you venture out of your bubble youll probably find theres a reason you spend your time posting hateful comments rather than with people who want to be around you
Bill Melton
Bill Melton Feb 27, 2021 7:44AM ET
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Mart Bab Hunter and James Biden said hi.
Viking Fire
Viking Fire Feb 27, 2021 6:26AM ET
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Weve seen the danger of doing too little. Even the street cried when they werent given enough help two years ago while they were raking in billions in profit as they were given a massive bonus by the tax payers.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Feb 27, 2021 3:38AM ET
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Only 9% is actually covid related. And there is 1 trillion USD unused from the previous bill... The stress this is gonna put on taxpayers will sink things deep a few months from now. Bridges and tunnels are being financed from this bill, and massive dem run states bailed out, that had problems even before the pandemic. 200B would be enough, not 1.9 trillions. Actually, none of it is needed, as there is the 1 trillion unpent money from the last bill.
Viking Fire
Viking Fire Feb 27, 2021 3:38AM ET
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David David
David9 Feb 27, 2021 3:18AM ET
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Hurry up... send me my third stimulus check... these policies are useless, they are so slow...
Roland Hara
Roland Hara Feb 27, 2021 3:18AM ET
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Weren’t you refering to China as “we” all of last year? Youre a paid china troll. Now you want stimulus checks, which is it?
Silver Bull
Silver Bull Feb 27, 2021 2:58AM ET
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Officially government website for the house that tracks bills says nothing of it passing. HR 1319 is still in the introduction phase. All of this stimulus talk nonsense is just that talk meant to keep hope alive in these markets. There will be no third stimulus check take that to the bank.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Feb 27, 2021 2:58AM ET
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It as been passed, i watched it being passed. Pelosi announced it in the end. It's up for reconsideration on monday, a revote, standart procedure.
Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon Feb 27, 2021 2:58AM ET
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Kelly Mayer not passed yet. now it goes to the Senate they will have to strip stuff, send it back, try again, etc
 
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