With Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial behind them, Democrats are moving to pass another coronavirus relief package before the end of February, said the Hose Speaker on Thursday.
With Congress and President Joe Biden having turned their full attention to the relief Americans need, the House aims to pass its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan before the end of February as Democrats race to beat a deadline to extend key unemployment programs.
Millions of Americans could lose unemployment benefits if lawmakers fail to act in the coming weeks, for a $300 per week federal unemployment supplement and provisions expanding eligibility for insurance will expire on March 14.
Nancy Pelosi told reporters she hopes for a vote “sometime at the end of next week.” House leaders will stay in touch with the Senate about what Congress can include in the aid package under budget reconciliation, which enables Democrats to approve the plan without Republican votes, the House Speaker added.
House panels have advanced important parts of the bill, including $1,400 direct payments, an extension of unemployment programs, and payments to families with children, and now the Budget Committee is set to combine them into one mammoth proposal in the coming days.
Congress has to approve the plan under budget reconciliation, a tool that will enable Democrats to pass it with no Republican votes in the Senate, and this will make it a more drawn-out process than usual.
As they try to approve a 1.9 trillion bill that Democrats believe will speed up Covid-19 vaccine distribution and help Americans who are struggling due to public health restrictions, potential pitfalls await, as there are limits to what lawmakers can include in budget reconciliation plans.
In order to pass the bill with no Republican support, every member of the Blue Party in the Senate will have to advocate for it, and at least two Democratic senators have expressed skepticism about parts of the plan.
The aid package as proposed by the House would send payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, put a $400 per week jobless benefit supplement and an existing unemployment insurance expansion in place through Aug. 29, and send $350 billion to struggling state, local and tribal governments.
It would also direct $20 billion into a national vaccination program and send $170 billion to schools and colleges for reopening costs and aid to students, and there is one particular piece of the House plan that could make the process challenging for Democrats, for the bill includes a proposal to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.
Republicans have criticized the plan’s price tag and questioned the cost of school funding and direct payments, in particular. A group of GOP senators offered Biden a roughly $600 billion counterproposal, but he has called it too small to address the crisis.
It is uncertain whether the Senate will allow the measure under reconciliation, and if it passes a different bill than the House does, representatives would have to reconvene to approve the legislation again.