WASHINGTON – Congress returns to law after an attack on the U.S. Capitol and historic impeachment.
Legislature’s main focus this week will be President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which Democrats are keen to get through without Republican aid. The bill is likely to face some hurdles and the Democrats will test their slim majorities in both houses for the first time.
However, Congress faces a clear deadline. In a few weeks, aid will dry up for the millions of people still suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
So where does the latest COVID-19 auxiliary bill go from here? And when can you expect help?
When could the COVID-19 bill exist?
The stimulus package is expected to pass through the democratically controlled House of Representatives, but faces several important hurdles. In the next week several important bodies in the house have to be clarified before the whole house can be passed with a simple majority.
The bill will be examined in the House Budgets Committee Monday afternoon, and the House Rules Committee will take it in later in the week. Neither body is expected to make any significant changes to the bill.
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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Has told lawmakers to expect the House to vote on it later that week.
When the law passes the House, it goes to the Senate, where it faces a more complicated process. The House could amend the bill and send it back to House for a new vote.
The Democrats want to pass the entire package by mid-March, when a federal boom in unemployment benefits expires.
What is in the COVID-19 auxiliary invoice?
The House Budgets Committee released a 591-page bill on Friday. The bill contains provisions that affect a wide range of government functions. Below are some provisions of the legislation:
- $ 1,400 checks for Americans earning $ 75,000 or less or $ 2,800 for couples earning $ 150,000 or less, plus $ 1,400 per dependent.
- Renewal of the paycheck protection program for small business loans.
- Improved food aid for families.
- Funding for the reopening of schools.
- Restaurant relief.
- Financing for transit and airports.
- An extension of the $ 400 per week weekly unemployment benefit increase through the end of August.
- An expansion of the child tax credit, including an increase to $ 3,600 per child and a shift to it as a monthly payment.
- Expansion of the earned income tax credit.
- Funding of vaccine distribution.
- Expansion of the Affordable Care Act subsidies for health insurance.
- Expansion of health insurance for the unemployed through subsidies from the COBRA Health Insurance Act.
- An increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 per hour by 2025.
What is budget reconciliation, the process by which it is passed?
The Senate is tied 50:50 between Democrats and Republicans, and Vice President Kamala Harris is available to break ties. But Democrats don’t have a filibuster-safe majority in the Senate, which means they would need more than 60 votes to thwart any Republican efforts to block the legislation.
Instead, the Democrats are using a process called budget balancing that allows them to jump over key procedural obstacles.
Reconciliation allows Democrats to pass the laws by a simple majority. However, the process is subject to certain rules that could make it more difficult to accommodate some democratic priorities, such as increasing the minimum wage by $ 15.
More:Minimum wage of $ 15? Another round of checks? Resistance to key pieces could cause Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan to fail
Both parties previously applied the budget vote. Republicans attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, but it failed when three Republican senators voted with all Democrats to oppose the repeal.
Later, however, the Republicans succeeded in reconciling a major reform of tax law.
What are the biggest hurdles and differences of opinion?
Republican senators oppose many provisions of the law, such as billions in aid to state and local governments. In this round of negotiations, as in the previous round, the Republicans mocked aid as a rescue operation for democratically controlled places that are in financial trouble.
A group of Republican senators made a smaller proposal totaling $ 618 billion, but the Democrats carried on with their $ 1.9 trillion plan despite Republican objections.
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More:Biden says the $ 15 minimum wage is unlikely to be included in the COVID relief bill
Internal party disputes have arisen among the Democrats over the inclusion of a federal minimum wage increase. Moderate Democrats like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona and Joe Manchin from West Virginia have spoken out against including the $ 15 minimum wage in the package.
Under a provision known as the Byrd Rule, a senator can object to “foreign” provisions in laws passed as part of a reconciliation. If the appeal is resolved in the correct order, the provision will be removed from the bill. Provisions are considered “third-party” if they have no material impact on the federal budget.
Advocates of the minimum wage increase such as Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Have argued that the wage increase could survive the Byrd Rule test. He pointed to a recent study by the Impartial Budget Office of Congress that found that increasing the federal minimum wage would increase the budget deficit by increasing the price of goods and services used by the federal government. However, if the provision remains in final Senate legislation, it is unclear whether Democrats like Sinema and Manchin would support it and put their futures at risk