By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic-controlled Home of Representatives on Friday was aiming to push by way of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus support package deal, although they seemed unlikely to have the ability to use the package deal to lift the minimal wage nationwide.
A contentious and probably lengthy debate was anticipated, as most Republicans oppose the price of the invoice to pay for vaccines and different medical provides to battle a COVID-19 pandemic that has killed greater than 500,000 Individuals and thrown hundreds of thousands out of labor.
The measure would additionally ship a brand new spherical of emergency monetary support to households, small companies and state and native governments.
A bunch of Senate Republicans had provided Biden a slimmed-down various, however the White Home and a few economists insist a giant package deal is required.
Consultant Jim McGovern, chairman of the Home Guidelines Committee, stated polls have proven that almost all Individuals assist the stimulus package deal.
“The one place this can be a partisan challenge is right here in Washington,” McGovern stated. “That is extra than simply numbers on a web page. We’re right here as a result of persons are hurting and communities are struggling.”
Republican Consultant Tom Cole stated about $1 trillion of the $4 trillion handed in support final 12 months stays unspent, and the invoice was “bloated” with Democratic pet initiatives unrelated to the coronavirus.
“Shouldn’t we not less than spend down the funds already allotted, and see if new cash is definitely required?” Cole stated.
Biden has targeted his first weeks in workplace on tackling the best public well being disaster in a century, which has upended most points of American life.
Democrats management the Home by a 221-211 margin, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is relying on almost all of her rank and file to get the invoice handed earlier than sending it to a 50-50 Senate the place Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.
Embedded within the Home invoice is a federal minimal wage improve, which might be the primary since 2009 and would progressively bump it as much as $15 an hour in 2025 from the present $7.25 charge.
FUTURE UNCERTAIN FOR WAGE HIKE
However the way forward for the wage hike was dealt a critical blow on Thursday, when the Senate parliamentarian dominated that it couldn’t be allowed within the Senate model of the coronavirus invoice underneath that chamber’s “reconciliation” guidelines.
The particular guidelines permit the laws to advance within the Senate with a easy majority of the 100 senators, as an alternative of the 60 wanted for many laws.
Biden has not given up on elevating the minimal wage to $15, a prime White Home financial adviser stated on Friday.
A better wage “is the appropriate factor to do,” White Home Nationwide Financial Council Director Brian Deese stated in an interview on MSNBC. “We’ll seek the advice of with our congressional allies, congressional leaders right now to speak a few path ahead, about how we are able to make progress urgently on what’s an pressing challenge.” In the meantime lawmakers should additionally act on the coronavirus stimulus package deal, Deese stated.
The $15 minimal wage determine had already confronted opposition within the Senate from most Republicans and not less than two Democrats, which might have been sufficient to sink the plan. An array of senators are speaking a few smaller improve, within the vary of $10 to $12 per hour.
In a press release after the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling, Pelosi stated: “Home Democrats imagine that the minimal wage hike is critical.” She stated it might keep within the Home model of the coronavirus invoice.
In arguing for passage of the aid invoice, Pelosi cited opinion polls indicating the assist of a major majority of Individuals who’ve been battered by the yearlong pandemic.
“It is about placing vaccinations within the arm, cash within the pocket, kids within the colleges, employees of their jobs,” Pelosi advised reporters on Thursday, including: “It is what this nation wants.”
Among the many big-ticket gadgets within the invoice are $1,400 direct funds to people, a $400-per-week federal unemployment profit by way of Aug. 29 and assist for these having difficulties paying their hire and residential mortgages in the course of the pandemic.
An array of enterprise pursuits even have weighed in behind Biden’s “America Rescue Plan” Act, because the invoice known as.
Republican Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy complained it was “too expensive, too corrupt.” Whereas Republicans for months have blocked a brand new spherical of support to state and native governments, McCarthy stated he was open to his dwelling state of California getting among the invoice’s $350 billion in funding, regardless of a onetime $15 billion funds surplus.
Efforts to craft a bipartisan coronavirus support invoice fizzled early on, shortly after Biden was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, following a collection of bipartisan payments enacted in 2020 that totaled round $4 trillion.