THE house has passed Joe Biden’s $1.9trillion Covid relief package relief package including $1400 stimulus checks.
The bill made through the lower chamber by 219-212 with every Republican and two Democrats voting against the measures, which will now go to the Senate.
Nancy Pelosi speaking ahead of the voteCredit: EPA
The House passed the third Covid relief package, which features $1,400 stimulus checksCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The package would also allocate billions to Covid-19 vaccination efforts and testing, schools, state and local governments and emergency jobless benefits.
If it passes the Senate, Biden can sign it into law before March 14, when emergency unemployment benefits are set to expire.
“We’re going to make a giant step forward tonight,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Republicans said the bill was too expensive and said too few education dollars would be spent quickly to immediately reopen schools.
They said it was laden with gifts to Democratic constituencies like labor unions and funneled money to Democratic-run states they suggested didn’t need it because their budgets had bounced back.
“To my colleagues who say this bill is bold, I say it’s bloated,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Joe Biden’s $1.9trillion package includes a third stimulus check for millions of AmericansCredit: Reuters
“To those who say it’s urgent, I say it’s unfocused. To those who say it’s popular, I say it is entirely partisan.”
But efforts to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour as part of the bill were dealt a blow by the chamber’s nonpartisan parliamentarian.
Elizabeth MacDonough said Senate rules require that a federal minimum wage increase would have to be dropped.
Democrats said they were pressing on with keeping the minimum wage provision in even as it will be dead on arrival in the upper chamber.
Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon were the only two lawmakers to cross party lines.
Kevin McCarthy called the bill ‘bloated’Credit: AP:Associated Press
The Senate is split down the party line 50-50, and while Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a tie-breaking vote, every Democrat would need to vote in favor of the relief package for it to pass.
Some Democrats, like West Virginia Sen Joe Manchin, have said they oppose including the $15 minimum wage hike in the Covid relief package.
If all goes according to plan for the Democrats, and the package heads to Biden’s desk by March 14 for final approval, the first stimulus checks could begin going out the week of March 22, according to CNET.
The discussion on another relief package comes as the US continues to grapple with the effects of the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Last week, the country recorded a grim milestone: more than 500,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
Around 28.4million people have been infected with the virus in the US, according to the latest figures.