The House voted 219-212 to pass the bill, a sharp break from previous aid packages that had drawn wide bipartisan support. No Republican in the House voted for it, and no Republican senator are expected to either. Two House Democrats also voted against it
President Joe Biden called on lawmakers to quickly approve his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid package, which passed the House of Representatives early Saturday and now heads to the Senate.
“It’s time to act," Biden said in brief remarks Saturday at the White House, adding that an “overwhelming" percentage of the Americans support the legislation.
“Now, the bill moves to the United States Senate, where I hope it will receive quick action. We have no time to waste," Biden said. “If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus, we can finally get our economy moving again."
Biden said he’d called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moments earlier to praise “her extraordinary leadership" after the measure narrowly passed the House Saturday morning.
The House voted 219-212 to pass the bill, a sharp break from previous aid packages that had drawn wide bipartisan support. No Republican in the House voted for it, and no Republican senator are expected to either. Two House Democrats also voted against it. To pass the Senate, Biden needs to either woo Republican support or avoid losing a single Democratic vote.
Democrats have all but abandoned efforts to pass a bipartisan package, accusing Republicans of balking at the price tag while Republicans say Biden’s bill goes well beyond pandemic-related measures.
GOP Representative Devin Nunes on Saturday called Biden’s stimulus plan a “slush fund" for Democrats to use over the next four years.
“They’re going to be able to get the 50 votes, they’re going to buy the votes," the California lawmaker said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida.
On Thursday, Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, said Democrats “are exploiting a crisis to make us pay for their pet projects."
The legislation would provide $1,400 direct payments to taxpayers making as much as $75,000 individually or $150,000 per couple. It also includes new funding for vaccinations and testing.
Biden has said he believes the risk facing the U.S. is not that they overdo it, but that they don’t do enough and become trapped in a cycle of sluggish growth coming out of the coronavirus crisis, similar to the outcome of the 2008-09 recession. Several business groups have called on Congress to approve Biden’s package or a version of it.
A nonpartisan official said Thursday the package can’t move forward with its provision to phase in a $15 an hour minimum wage. That ruling sent Democrats looking for ways to work around Senate rules governing the fast-track budget process they’re using to pass the stimulus plan without Republican votes.
A target deadline looms for Biden: millions of people are set to lose supplemental unemployment benefits on March 14, when a previous round of virus stimulus expires.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.
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