The US House of Representatives this weekend, passed a $1.9 trillion Covid Pandemic Relief Bill. Democrats hailed this package as according to them, it will solve the funding problem of vaccinations and overburdened local governments. Additionally, it will also be a great help for the millions affected by the pandemic.
Today, we shall look into the details of the bill as well as analyze the reactions to it.
This bill is one of the ways President Joe Biden plans to fulfill his electoral promises, especially one related to minimum wage. Thus, it focuses on making enough cash available for for everyone, from individuals to businesses and even cities and states affected by Covid-19.
Some of the features included in the bill includes: –
- Rebate of $1400 for a single taxpayer, $2800 for a couple that files jointly plus that of $1400 per independent
- $350 billion stimulus to the states, local governments and tribal governments.
- Additional help of $130 billion for students from Kindergarten to 12th grade.
- $15 billion Relief for airlines and eligible contractors, only if they refrain from furloughing and pay cuts through September.
- Increase in federal unemployment benefits from $300 to $400/week though September.
The bill is on track to be the second largest US stimulus ever, after the $2 trillion package Donald Trump signed last March to fight the pandemic’s devastating spread. The package cleared the House despite a major setback for Democrats, when a key Senate official ruled Thursday that the final version of the bill cannot include a minimum wage hike.
The House Democrats have a reason to celebrate as the bill passed the HoR test, though narrowly. It got a majority of 219-212. However, they hailed this bill as a saving grace in this already faltering economy. According to them, it is the decisive action that the United States needed the most, especially after losing half a million lives.
This emotion is reflected aptly through the statements below: –
After 12 months of death and despair, the American recovery begins tonightCongressman Brendan Boyle
Even without the wage hike, she said the bill was critical and it would be “catastrophic” if it does not become law. The American people need to know that their government is there for them. As President Biden has said, help is on the way.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Biden’s aim to hike the minimum wage though, did not see the light of the day, which infuriated many Democrats. However, top members of the party assured that once this bill passes the Senate test, they will rekindle this movement. The “Fight to 15” campaign still remains the top priority for democrats.
House Republicans Oppose
First thing we need to note is that No Republican voted for the bill. In fact, the GOP lawmakers said that this bill is out pf step with the public. This means that according to the GOP, majority of the public does not view it favorably.
Another aspect of the bill that infuriated Republicans, was the high cost of the bill.They said that the bill was too expensive. Additionally, they feel that the authorities will use very less of the money to immediately reopen schools.
Democrats are so embarrassed by all the non-Covid waste in this bill that they are jamming it through in the dead of nightKevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader
He and fellow Republicans accused Democrats of using a pandemic to push forward a liberal wish list. They said that this bill was nothing but gifts to Democrat constituencies and democrat run states. Thus, they say that this bill threw money without accountability.
Such a hostile reaction by the Republicans has made 1 thing clear. This bill is going to have a hard time passing the Senate test.
Post-House Test in the Senate
One advantage the Democrats have in this scenario, is the fact that they hold the majority in the Senate. Additionally, the Vice President is Democrat too. However, time is running out and thus, USA needs a plan of action ASAP.
Secondly, the White House Budget Office also praised how the bill tackles health crises and urged it’s swift passage. However, this is not enough to convince Republicans. With the kind of reaction Republicans gave in the House, we can be sure of 1 thing. The Senate Republicans will unanimously come against this bill. Thus, the Democrats need to come together in giving assent to the vote.
A third scenario is also possible where V.P Kamala Harris will have to break up the tie. This is a major advantage to the Democrats as well. However this advantage comes with a challenge once again. The government will have to combine the House and Senate texts and pass it again as a single bill. Only after this, will the bill be eligible for Biden’s signature.
All we need to do now, is wait and watch the Senate test of the bill.