- Democrats are focused on approving Biden’s rescue package with Trump’s impeachment trial behind them.
- House Democrats say a floor vote could come late next week.
- The final legislation is being assembled over the next seven days.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Democrats in Congress are ramping up their efforts to enact President Joe Biden’s $US1.9 ($2) trillion rescue package before federal unemployment benefits start expiring on March 14.
Congressional Democrats are doubling down on an aggressive timeline now that former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is behind them. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday said in a Dear Colleague letter that Democrats were on track for a floor vote “later in the week” of February 22.
“We will be ready to take further action on the American Rescue Plan in the event the Senate amends it and sends it back to us,” Hoyer said, suggesting a final vote could come during the week of March 8.
The proposal would provide $US1,400 ($1,800) stimulus checks and $US400 ($514) federal unemployment benefits, and would begin gradually increasing the minimum wage to $US15 ($19) an hour. It also includes major funding for vaccine distribution and virus testing, and for state and local governments, among other provisions.
Nine House committees concluded their work last week, marking up their respective parts of the colossal rescue package. Now the House Budget Committee will take each separate piece and assemble the final legislation over the next seven days.
Democrats are using a process called reconciliation to bypass Republicans on the measure. It only requires a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the 60 typically needed to defeat a filibuster.
A plan with broad support in early polls
Republicans are staunchly opposed to the rescue plan, arguing it’s an untargeted collection of liberal political priorities. Components that have sparked significant GOP opposition include $US350 ($450) billion in aid to state and local governments along with the minimum wage bump.
“There are lots of things in there that have nothing to do with the stated purpose of the bill,” Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the right-leaning American Action Forum, recently said in an interview with Insider.
Biden is expected to try and marshal support for his plan at a CNN town hall on Tuesday evening. Early polling indicates it is broadly popular with the American public.
That has prompted White House officials to say their plan is bipartisan -and all but dare Republicans in Congress to explain their opposition.
“If they make a decision, Sen. McConnell [and] the Republicans in Congress, to vote against the will of their constituents, I would suggest you ask them why that’s smart politically,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a news briefing on Tuesday.
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