Friday, May 14, 2021

House Democrats ‘ready’ for quick vote on $ 1.9 billion stimulus bill

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Nancy Pelosi says US House of Representatives will be “completely ready” to pass Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 billion relief bill by February 1, underscoring the Democrats’ desire to push through the massive stimulus package as soon as possible.

Speaking a day after Mr. Biden was sworn in is the 46th US PresidentHouse Democratic Speaker Ms Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill that lower house lawmakers will work out the details of the relief bill in committees next week.

That would mean they were “fully ready to speak” when the full chamber convened in the first week of February, she said.

Ms Pelosi added, “This is what the people need, what the country needs to crush the virus, put money in the pockets of the American people and honor our heroes.”

The number of Americans actively collecting state unemployment benefits was 5.1 million as of Jan. 9, according to new data from the Labor Ministry released Thursday.

Mr. Biden has made adopting the massive coronavirus relief package a key priority for his first 100 days in the White House. The bill – which includes $ 1,400 in direct payments to U.S. adults, increased unemployment insurance, and a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour – will need to be passed by the House and Senate, both controlled by Democrats, before being sent to Mr. Biden’s office to be signed into law.

But Democrats Expect the package to face significant hurdles given the narrow margins by which the party controls both houses of Congress. While the bill is likely to pass in the House, the Senate, which is now split 50 to 50, will be tougher.

Under the obscure “filibuster” rules, the bill will need to be backed by at least 10 Republican senators to become law.

Alternatively, parts of the legislation could be passed by simple majority using a process called budget reconciliation, although this loophole can only be exploited once in a fiscal year and only apply to policies. relating to taxation and public expenditure.

The Capitol Hill stimulus wrangling comes amid uncertainty over the timing of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

Mr. Trump was dismissed by the House last week for inciting an insurgency, but Pelosi has yet to send the article to the Senate to start a trial. On Thursday, she avoided questions about when she would send the article.

It is still unclear whether the Senate will hold a trial concurrently with debate on a stimulus package, amid fears it could interfere with the Democrats’ legislative agenda.

the revival debate highlights the limits Congress will place on Mr. Biden’s ambitions. The new president will have to meet the demands of progressive Democrats in both the House and Senate, while appeasing centrists in his own party and across the political aisle.

Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Republican senator from Alaska who is likely to be a key swing vote, said on Wednesday that the Biden administration had already contacted her about the economic aid bill.

But other moderate Republicans, including Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, have expressed skepticism. Ms Collins said the bill was “premature” given that Congress passed a separate $ 900 billion economic relief package last month. Mr. Romney said he “is not looking for a new program in the immediate future.”

Major business groups have broadly supported Mr Biden’s calls for further stimulus and to step up the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

Neil Bradley, executive vice president of the American Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday that the group “applauds” the new president’s proposals, adding: “America must get back to health before it can restore economic growth and achieve the 10 millions of Americans who lost their jobs in the past year back to work. “

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