Politics U.S. House set to pass sweeping election bill, Senate prospects unclear
Minimum wage increase imperiled in covid relief bill by Senate official’s ruling
The guidance from the parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, was communicated privately to key Senate offices and confirmed by aides in both parties. It could be a major setback for liberals hoping to use Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill as the vehicle for their long-sought goal of raising the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour. And it could create divisions in the party as some push Democratic leaders for dramatic action to get around the parliamentarian’s ruling. Democrats had been anxiously awaiting the decision, but their next steps are not clear. Liberals are already pressuring Senate Majority Leader Charles E.
By Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday is expected to pass its flagship election reform bill, which would update voting procedures and require states to turn over the task of redrawing congressional districts to independent commissions.
The legislation, whose number "H.R. 1" indicates the importance Democrats attach to it, "is designed to restore the voices of Americans who felt left out and locked out for too long," Representative John Sarbanes, the original sponsor of the legislation, said in remarks outside the U.S. Capitol.
Congress is writing up Biden’s stimulus plan. Here’s what’s in it.
Stimulus checks and UI, but not a $15 minimum wage: the state of the House’s stimulus bill so far.The House of Representatives has drafted and passed its version of the budget reconciliation package, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks for those making up to $75,000 and $400 expanded weekly unemployment insurance benefits through August 29. It also contains a restaurant rescue fund, money for reopening schools, and Democrats’ long-sought-after funding for state and local governments, among other items. House Democrats included a $15 minimum wage provision in their version of the bill, but that’s a non-starter in the Senate.
The bill is one of many the House Democrats are voting on early in the Congress on a number of priorities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, policing and the environment.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has said he would sign the bill into law if it cleared both the House and the Senate.
But the bills face long odds in the Senate, where all 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them would need to be joined by 10 Republican senators to overcome a filibuster.
Already, some Democrats have trained fire on the filibuster and called for its elimination. Representatives Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat, called the filibuster "undemocratic" at a news conference on Tuesday and James Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat, described how the filibuster had been used to deny rights to Black citizens.
Schumer says "we'll have the votes" to pass COVID relief bill
The Senate majority leader said that the Senate will take up President Biden's $1.9 trillion relief bill as early as tomorrow."We want to get the biggest, strongest, boldest bill that can pass. And that's what we are working to do," Schumer told reporters. "We'll have the votes we need to pass the bill.
"We're going to do everything in our power - I think Chuck Schumer's going to do everything in his power - to make sure that the agenda that we are working on and promised the people will in fact be the agenda that we put forward and hopefully pass," said Hoyer.
Such a move to destroy the filibuster would face severe opposition. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has repeatedly said he would "never" vote to get rid of the filibuster, while Biden has said he opposes overturning it.
Some Democrats have suggested a compromise of a carve-out could be possible.
Asked about the possibility of a carve-out for voting rights issues, Senator Raphael Warnock, who was narrowly elected in Georgia, a state that has since introduced a raft of changes to election procedures that critics say target Black voters, told a reporter on Tuesday: "I think that the issues are urgent enough to leave all options on the table."
House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference
A sweeping elections bill passed by the House on Wednesday night would boost cybersecurity measures and focus on countering foreign interference efforts like the kind that affected the 2016 and 2018 elections.The bill, which the House passed on a mostly party-line vote of 220-210, marks a major effort by Democrats to tackle both voting reforms, such as increasing access to the polls through use of mail-in ballots, and cybersecurity upgrades. Among issues included in H.R.
Democrats have argued the legislation is necessary to lower barriers to voting and to make the U.S. political system more democratic and responsive to voters.
But Republicans contend the bill would take powers away from the states and fail to do enough to combat fraud, and the influential right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank has urged lawmakers to vote against it.
The bill has particular importance this year because the U.S. Census Bureau is set to turn over population data that states use to redraw congressional district maps ahead of the 2022 elections, where every House lawmaker's seat is up for grabs.
States use different criteria and procedures for drawing the maps. In 33 states, state legislatures control at least part of the process of drawing those maps, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The parties in control of state legislatures have often wielded the power to draw the maps in a way that benefits the party in power. Some states have also used this process to target Black voters.
It also comes as state lawmakers in 43 states have introduced legislation to place more limits on voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
Several states, including Georgia, where Warnock and Democrat Jon Ossoff were elected in a political upset in January, have since introduced changes to their election procedures that activists say make it more difficult for people to vote.
(This story refiles to add dropped letter to Senator Ossoff's name in paragraph 17)
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)
Senate Nears Saturday Passage After All-Nighter: Stimulus Update .
The Senate is on track to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill as early as midday Saturday after a compromise reduced added unemployment benefits to $300 a week, one of several ways moderate Democrats shaped the bill to be less generous than the House version. Democrats also fought off a raft of Republican amendments to cut state and local funding, redirect Amtrak funding, end aid to indebted minority farmers, and stop grants for non-profit entities. The amendment process began after 11 a.m. on Friday.But the chamber voted to include the deal Democrats reached within their own ranks to extend until Sept.