Senate Working on $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill

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Senate Working on $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill

Congress is considering legislation to spend nearly $2 trillion on economic stimulus as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Last week, the House of Representatives passed HR 1319. Here is how VoteSpotter describes this bill:

 

To spend $1.9 trillion on economic stimulus and increase the federal minimum wage to $15-per-hour. This legislation includes $1,400 in checks to most taxpayers, an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits, $50 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing, $350 billion for local and state governments, $130 billion for schools, $25 billion for restaurants and bars, $1.5 billion to Amtrak, and $3 billion to aircraft manufacturers, among other things.

 

House members approved it by a narrow vote of 219-212

 

Unlike past coronavirus aid bills that have cleared Congress, this legislation does not have bipartisan support. In the House, every Republican and two Democrats voted against it. Republicans in the Senate have also signaled they will not support it.

 

The legislation has garnered GOP ire because of its large price tag and provisions that they say are unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic. They point to aid to state and local governments, for instance, arguing that these governments that have fiscal problems do so not because of the pandemic but because of spending excessively for years previously.

 

Another point of contention is the minimum wage increase. Because this stimulus bill is being advanced as part of the budget process, it is being considered under rules known as reconciliation. The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that the minimum wage increase cannot be part of the Senate legislation. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi kept the provision in the legislation that passed that chamber, but it will be removed in the Senate.

 

Backers of this bill say that Americans need aid and they need it now. They contend that without action it will lead to people losing their homes and jobs. They contend that Republicans had few objections when Congress considered expensive legislation under President Trump, so their concerns about fiscal responsibility are hypocritical now.

 

The Senate will debate the legislation this week.


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