House Democrats are inching closer to final passage of $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference with other House Democratic leaders about COVID-19 financial relief. Brendan Smialowski / AFP
  • The House is on course to vote on Biden’s stimulus plan on early Wednesday.
  • The legislation would provide stimulus checks and $US300 ($389) federal unemployment benefits.
  • There were no imminent signs of progressive revolt after the Senate changed some parts of the bill.
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The House is set to vote on the final version of the $US1.9 ($2) trillion relief plan early Wednesday and send the bill to President Joe Biden for his signature

The House Rules Committee is taking it up on Tuesday to set the parameters for debate on the floor.

The Democratic relief bill would provide $US1,400 ($1,817) stimulus checks for most taxpayers; $US300 ($389) federal unemployment benefits through August; $US350 ($454) billion in state and local aid; and funds for vaccine distribution and virus testing among other provisions. It also contains a large boost to the child tax credit.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says Democrats were determined to quickly approve the plan and assailed the GOP for not supporting it.

“The question is not whether we’re going to pass the American Rescue plan – we will,” he said at a press conference. “The question is whether Republicans are going to step up on behalf of their constituents and support this effort to decisively crush the virus.”

Republicans are strongly critical of the legislation, assailing it as a wasteful endeavor that could have been improved with their involvement. The GOP has blasted the large price tag. No House Republican voted for its passage last month, and they are likely to be united in opposition again. No Senate Republican voted for it more recently in that chamber.

“We could have had a bill that was a fraction of the cost of this one, it could have gotten bipartisan approval and support,” Rep. Liz Cheney, chair of the House Republican Conference, told reporters on Tuesday.

Like with many large bills, the legislation being considered by the House looks different from the version that was submitted to the Senate weeks ago. Senate Democrats were advised by the parliamentarian to scrap a $US15 ($19) minimum wage, a top progressive priority, and some moderate senators successfully pushed Biden to tighten the eligibility for a third wave of stimulus checks.

But there were no immediate signs of a revolt among House progressives. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, criticized the bill over the weekend and reiterated on Tuesday that the Senate had “failed” to put struggling Americans first, but said she would still vote for the final bill.

“While I will continue to pressure my party to live up to its banner as the party of the people I cannot ignore the immediate need for relief,” she said in a statement.