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House Passes $1.9T Stimulus Package

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What You Need to Know

  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wants the plan to pass before March 14.
  • Unemployment payments are set to rise to $400 from $300 per week through Aug. 29.
  • But the hike of the hourly minimum wage to $15 is doomed in the Senate.

The House passed early Saturday by a 219-212 vote President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks, increased jobless benefits payments and COVID-19 vaccine funding.

The bill, H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, also includes a $15 minimum wage. However, the wage increase is set to fail in the Senate, as the parliamentarian has ruled that the increase can’t be included.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said during a press briefing late Friday that “if it [the $15 minimum wage] doesn’t prevail because of Senate rules, we will persist. But we will not stop until we, very soon, pass the $15 minimum wage.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., added in a Friday statement that members of the Senate “are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help millions of struggling American workers and their families.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., added during the press briefing that “we need to pass this bill prior to March 14,” when federal unemployment assistance is set to expire.

He added, “we’re determined” to send the bill to Biden’s desk before that date. “Economists agree that we need a bold plan, not just another temporary measure.”

The plan provides:

  • Payments of $1,400 to taxpayers earning up to $75,000 individually, heads of household earning up to $112,500, or $150,000 per couple;
  • A $400 (up from $300) per week unemployment supplement through Aug. 29;
  • $25 billion for rental assistance;
  • $170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions to cover reopening costs and aid to students; and
  • An increase to the child tax credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 per child under age 6) and allows 17-year-old children to qualify.

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said the “aggressive plan will provide vital resources to speed up vaccine distribution, deliver immediate relief to working families, and help generate a strong and inclusive recovery.”

Yarmouth explained that it ”took a dozen House Committees to finalize details of this legislation, which is a testament to the immense and far-reaching impacts of this pandemic on American families, our nation, and our economy.”

Minimum Wage Plans

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called the Senate rules “arcane” in a Friday statement, and noted that he’s  working on a “plan B” in lieu of the $15 minimum wage that would make big companies pay for “mistreating” their workers.

“My plan would impose a 5% penalty on a big corporations’ total payroll if any workers earn less than a certain amount. That penalty would increase over time. It would also include safeguards to prevent companies from trying to outsource labor to avoid paying living wages,” Wyden said.

At the same time, he said, “I want to incentivize the smallest of small businesses — those with middle-class owners — to raise their workers’ wages. My plan would provide an income tax credit equal to 25% of wages, up to $10,000 per year per employer, to small businesses that pay their workers higher wages.”

Wyden said his Plan B “provides us a path to move forward and get this done through the reconciliation process. Workers have not gotten a federal pay raise in more than a decade. We can’t continue to have millions of workers — workers who are disproportionately, people of color, women and essential workers like fast food workers and home health aides — earning starvation wages.”