Senate Pushing Forward on COVID Stimulus Bill
All of this comes as more centrist lawmakers beg for more cuts
The Senate could take an initial procedural vote today to move forward with President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, setting up several days of debate and a “vote-a-rama” to consider possible amendments.
Senate debate was delayed this week while lawmakers awaited an official cost estimate on the latest version of the bill. Biden agreed earlier this week to narrow eligibility for a new round of $1,400 stimulus payments, a concession he hopes will appease moderate Senate Democrats and keep the caucus united on what will be a tight vote in the 50-50 Senate.
Under the new language, stimulus checks would phase out faster for individuals at higher income levels compared with the version of the bill that passed the House last Saturday. Individuals earning $75,000 per year and couples earning $150,000 would still receive the full $1,400 per person, but the benefit would disappear for individuals earning more than $80,000 annually and couples earning more than $160,000. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president is “comfortable and knows there will be tweaks on the margin. What his firm viewpoint is, is that it needs to meet the scope of the challenge, it needs to be the size he’s proposed, it needs to have the core components in order to have the impact on the American people.”
Also stripped from the Senate bill is the minimum wage hike that was included in the House bill. More centrist Senate Democrats have also suggested changes to state and local government aid and keeping enhanced unemployment benefits in the bill at $300, rather than the $400 proposed by Biden and passed by the House. The unemployment benefits are currently set to expire March 14, which is why Senate Democrats are pushing for final passage of the bill before that deadline. Senate leaders have said the benefits will stay at an extra $400 in the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will have to count on moderates in his caucus like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to vote for the final package. Democrats are advancing the bill under the budget reconciliation process that allows it to pass with a simply majority, but unless any Senate Republicans break ranks, all 50 Senate Democrats will have to approve it with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote.
This article was provided to OSAE by ASAE's Power of A and Inroads.