coronavirus

House Plans to Pass $1.9 Trillion Covid Relief Bill Wednesday, Send It to Biden

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters
  • House Democrats plan to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Wednesday morning.
  • They aim to get it to President Joe Biden so he can sign it before key unemployment aid programs expire on Sunday.
  • The Senate already approve the legislation, which includes direct payments, an expansion of the child tax credit, vaccine distribution funds, and state and local government relief.

House Democrats aim to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Wednesday so President Joe Biden can sign it by the weekend.

The chamber received the Senate-passed package on Tuesday, and will take procedural steps to set up final approval Wednesday morning, according to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office. Biden aims to sign the legislation in time to beat a Sunday deadline to renew unemployment aid programs. It can take days for Congress to formally send huge bills to the White House.

The president previously said he expects direct payments of up to $1,400 to start hitting Americans' bank accounts this month.

Democrats will likely pass the package without Republican votes, as the GOP questions the need for nearly $2 trillion more in federal spending. The bill was approved in the Senate without Republican support through the budget reconciliation process.

On Tuesday, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters he is "110% confident that the votes exist to pass" the plan.

The legislation extends a $300 per week jobless benefit boost and programs expanding unemployment aid to millions more Americans through Sept. 6. It includes the stimulus payments, an expansion of the child tax credit, rental and utility assistance, and state, local and tribal government relief.

The bill also puts more money into Covid-19 vaccine distribution and testing, along with K-12 schools and higher education institutions.

House progressives had criticized changes the Senate made to a version of the plan representatives previously approved. However, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., signaled the group would still back the proposal as passed by the Senate.

Senators reduced the unemployment supplement to $300 from $400 and limited the number of people receiving direct payments in concessions to conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Democrats have said the legislation will cut child poverty and help households afford food and rent while the economy recovers from the pandemic. While the U.S. continues to regain jobs lost during the crisis, more than 18 million people were still receiving some form of unemployment benefits in mid-February.

Republicans have questioned the need for more economic stimulus spending as the U.S. ramps up its vaccination pace and moves toward a level of normalcy. They have also contended Democrats have focused on policies unrelated to the pandemic.

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