Washington — Congress on Wednesday is set to approve a sweeping $1.9 trillionaimed at addressing the continued economic fallout from the ongoing pandemic, giving President Biden his first major legislative victory.
The measure, called the American Rescue Plan, cleared a procedural hurdle Tuesday, and the House is poised to begin voting on the package Wednesday afternoon. The $1.9 trillion aid plan is expected to pass along party lines and will head to Mr. Biden’s desk before key unemployment programs expire March 14. The Senate approved the plan Saturday following a marathon voting session.
How to watch the House vote today on the American Rescue Plan
- What: The House votes on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan
- Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
- Time: House convenes at 9 a.m. ET
- Location: U.S. Capitol
- Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device
The coronavirus relief package provides $1,400 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually, gives $350 billion in aid to state and local governments and allots $14 billion for vaccine distribution. It also includes an additional $300 billion in weekly jobless benefits through September and a tax credit of up to $3,600 per child.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters many Americans will receive their checks by the end of the month, and they will not bear Mr. Biden’s signature. Former President Donald Trump had his name printed on prior relief checks distributed to Americans.
Democrats have heralded the economic relief package as one of their defining legislative accomplishments. But Republicans in both chambers have criticized the measure for its $1.9 trillion price tag and scope, as well as Democrats’ decision to push the plan through Congress without their support.
A version of the president’s relief plan passed the House last week, but the Senate amended the package and approved it in a 50-49 party-line vote. The lower chamber will now vote on the Senate-amended measure.
Changes in the Senate-amended measure include lowering an unemployment insurance benefit from $400 per week to $300 per week, but extending it through September 6 instead of ending the additional aid in August. It will make the first $10,200 in unemployment benefits non-taxable for households making under $150,000 as well.
The bill amended by the Senate also limited the eligibility for the direct checks. These compromises were negotiated to satisfy moderate Democrats in the Senate, particularly Senator Joe Manchin. As Democrats have a 50-seat majority in the Senate, they require support from all 50 Democrats to pass any controversial legislation, meaning that members like Manchin need to be appeased in order for bills to be approved.
Lawmakers used a process known as budget reconciliation to usher the relief plan through both chambers, which allowed it to pass the Senate with just a simple majority and without relying on Republican support. But the package had to comply with certain rules governing the reconciliation process, which led to a $15 minimum wage hike being stripped from the original proposal that had passed in the House.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, introduced an amendment to the final bill raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, but it failed in a 42-58 vote.
Note: Streaming plans are subject to change.