Democrats advance $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill

The House panel considering President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill advanced it for a full House vote along party lines on Monday. That means the Democrats are one step away from passing the bill. 

The House Budget Committee voted 19-16 to send the bill to the Rules Committee for markup before it can be voted on by the complete House, which will likely be Friday or Saturday.

The bill gives individuals $1400 stimulus checks, emergency unemployment benefit extensions, funding for vaccinations and testing, $129 billion for schools, increases to child tax credits and earned income tax credits, and a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.

It also gives more than $100 billion to state and local governments, funds that conservative critics say will bail out poorly-run Democrat-led cities and states.

Bill has public support

The bill is supported by 70% of the public from both parties, including 50% of Republicans, but economists say it could lead to inflation and be a drag on long-term economic recovery.

Republicans favor a smaller bill that provides $1,000 stimulus checks that are phased out for higher income earners and does not bail out Democrat-run local governments.

Democrats are trying to pass the bill using budget reconciliation in an attempt to bypass the Senate filibuster, but even so, it is likely to face challenges from Republicans in the narrowly divided Senate.

Biden has already said he doesn’t expect the $15 per hour minimum wage provision to pass parliamentary muster to be included in the plan, although Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is still trying to get it in.

Democrats eager to pass bill

“We are in a race against time. Aggressive, bold action is needed before our nation is more deeply and permanently scarred by the human and economic costs of inaction,” Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) said at the panel hearing.

But as much as Democrats are in a hurry to spend another couple trillion of taxpayer dollars and put the next generation tens of thousands more in debt, Republicans are in no hurry and would like to see the bill, no matter how popular, fail.

The impact of this amount of debt on America’s future is not well understood by the public, which is wooed by promises of stimulus checks and longer unemployment.

This is one time when more gridlock and division in Congress could serve to stop a bad bill from passing, but that is another nearly two years in coming, at least.

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