Politics Democrats advance Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill in marathon Senate session
AOC says Democrats should overrule or FIRE the Senate parliamentarian
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Democrats should overrule or fire the Senate parliamentarian after Elizabeth MacDonough ruled the $15 minimum wage cannot be included in COVID relief package.'I think all options should be on the table,' she told reporters on Capitol Hill when asked about the matter.
By Makini Brice and David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in the U.S. Senate forged ahead with President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan early on Saturday, turning back Republican attempts to modify the package in a marathon session that had begun the prior day.
With Republicans united in opposition, Democrats who narrowly control the chamber must keep all 50 of their members on board in order to pass the package, as they hope to do this weekend.
Progress ground to a halt for more than 11 hours as Democrats negotiated a compromise on unemployment benefits to satisfy centrists, chiefly Senator Joe Manchin, who worried the massive package might overheat the economy.
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.
With that issue resolved, the chamber then moved to a series of Republican attempts to modify the bill. The first attempt -- to adjourn for the evening -- fell short by a vote of 48 to 50.
The largest public health crisis in a century has killed more than 521,000 in the United States, thrown millions out of work and upended most aspects of American life.
The relief legislation includes funding for vaccines and medical supplies, extends jobless assistance and provides a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state and local governments.
Opinion polls indicate broad public support for the package.
Democrats hope to get it to Biden to sign into law before some current benefits expire on March 14.
Fact check: Breaking down spending in the COVID-19 relief bill
About 85% of the proposed spending is pandemic-related, a nonpartisan analysis found. But only about 9% goes to direct COVID-19 intervention. Around 8.5% of the $1.9 trillion, at most, goes to direct containment measures such as vaccines and testing. The total is somewhere between $100 billion and $160 billion, depending on whether one includes items like $10 billion in medical supplies and $24 billion in child care for essential workers, as the White House does in arriving at the larger figure.
Unemployment aid is just one of many friction points in the sweeping bill. An attempt to raise the minimum wage fell short earlier in the day, and Democrats had earlier modified the bill to steer more aid to smaller states and cities.
The version passed by the House last Saturday calls for $400 per week in jobless benefits through Aug. 29, on top of state benefits, to help Americans who have lost jobs amid the economic trauma caused by the coronavirus.
The compromise would lower that weekly benefit to $300, but extend it through Sept. 6, according to a Democratic aide. The first $10,200 would be tax-free.
The agreement also extends a tax break for businesses for an additional year through 2026.
Biden supports the compromise, the White House said.
If the Senate passes the bill, the House would have to sign off on those changes before Biden could sign it into law.
Republicans were one vote down after Senator Dan Sullivan left Washington en route home to Alaska for a family funeral.
Republicans have broadly supported previous stimulus packages to fight the virus and revive the world's largest economy, which has yet to replace 9.5 million jobs lost since last year.
But with Democrats in charge of the White House and both chambers of Congress, they have criticized this bill as too expensive. The White House says it could take years for the U.S. economy to add back those lost jobs.
Washington got unexpected good news on Friday after data showed that employment surged in February, adding 379,000 jobs, significantly higher than many economists had expected.
The U.S. unemployment rate, while still high at 6.2% last month, was down from 6.3% in January.
(Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone and Jacqueline Wong)
Biden eyes big win that will send checks to millions of Americans .
Joe Biden is on the cusp of a presidency-defining first 100 days victory and tens of millions of Americans could soon get stimulus checks as the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 rescue bill heads back to the House for a final vote. © Samuel Corum/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06: President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room following the passage of the American Rescue Plan in the U.S. Senate at the White House on March 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate passed the latest COVID-19 relief bill by 50 to 49 on a party-line vote, after an all-night session.