US Senate to debate Biden stimulus plan 'this week': Schumer

Lawrence Kim
March 3, 2021

"There is precedent for not listening to the parliamentarian's advice, and we are hopeful that the vice president, or whoever is in the Senate chair, will do that".

Democrats aim to pass the legislation in the Senate trough a maneuver known as "reconciliation", which would allow the bill to pass with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes normally required by that chamber's rules.

Psaki opened Monday's White House press briefing by emphasizing the urgency of congressional action to finalize the relief bill with just two weeks remaining before a March 14 deadline when enhanced unemployment benefits will expire. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have also said they'll oppose the measure. A White House statement said the group was united in the goal of quickly passing a significant package that reflects the scope of the challenges our country is facing.

To pass the relief plan, Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris may have to cast a tie-breaking vote in a chamber where Republicans control 50 seats and Democrats and their allies control the other 50. Both Republicans and Democrats voted against it.

Part of the legislation in the House Democrats' bill includes almost $130 billion for schools to ensure a safe return to the classroom.

Democrats are considering several changes in the House measure, but they seem modest compared to dropping the minimum wage increase. "Harris is not from the progressive wing of the party, there's no reason to believe that she will strongly advocate for progressive positions very extensively."While conversations about alternatives are ongoing, those on the left are generally against the idea of potentially trying to raise the federal minimum wage through a standalone bill, acknowledging that it is not likely to pass in a 50-50 Senate".

Biden's bill increases the emergency unemployment benefits from $300 to $400 a week and extends them through August.

"As President of the Senate, Vice President Harris has the Constitutional power to disregard the recommendation of the Senate Parliamentarian and include this provision in the COVID relief legislation", the letter states. These might include dropping or altering provisions in the House bill providing billions of dollars to help some struggling pension plans and to help people who've lost jobs afford health insurance.

The House-approved language would gradually raise the federal minimum to $15 an hour by 2025, more than double the $7.25 floor in place since 2009.

Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton last week proposed an increase to $10 per hour, but said employers should verify the wage is going to workers who are legally in the United States.

But three Senate aides, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions, said Monday that party leaders were dropping those proposals.

The minimum wage hasn't gone this long without an increase in the eight-decade history of the law, and raising it has been a priority for the Democrats' progressive caucus.

"This week, the Senate will take up the measure".

The plan included tax penalties on big companies that pay low wages along with incentives for smaller companies. In an acknowledgement that his effort might fall short, he said, If we fail in this legislation, I will be back and offer it in the near future. Richard Blumenthal of CT.

Neither idea seemed to have the support among Democrats or the White House needed to succeed.

A group of House progressives urged Biden on Monday to overrule the Senate parliamentarian, who determined last week that the $15 proposal could not pass by reconciliation.

Despite seeming White House opposition, almost two dozen House progressives tried pressuring Biden to have Harris join Democratic senators and vote to override the parliamentarian and include the increase in the bill anyway.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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