Senate approves Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 billion stimulus bill
The U.S. Senate voted to approve Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 billion stimulus bill, making the president’s plan to boost U.S. economic recovery a big step closer to its final passage in Congress.
The upper house of Congress passed the budget stimulus legislation by 50 to 49, in an online vote with all Democrats voting for it and all Republicans present opposing it.
The Senate green light brings Biden’s goal of stimulating the U.S. economy with a large-scale dose of federal support during his first months in office in preparation for the finish line.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will now consider the Senate’s version of the stimulus package in the coming days. If approved by the House, it will then head to Biden’s office to be legalized.
As the job market is still 9.5 million jobs below its pre-pandemic level and low-income workers and minority communities suffer a disproportionate economic impact, the US president has touted the package as essential to ensure a strong and uniform recovery.
Biden and his economics team have dismissed criticism from some economists that the plan is excessive and risks a spike in inflation, even with the US recovery showing signs of a solid recovery in February after the winter crisis.
The president’s inability to convince a single Republican lawmaker to support the legislation is a blow to his hopes of using his decades-long experience in Washington to foster a new era of two-party politics to support his agenda.
The unanimous Republican opposition left the passage of the Senate stimulus bill on a razor’s edge for several hours on Friday when West Virginia centrist Democrat Joe Manchin called for changes to the provisions of the allowance law unemployment.
But after hours of intense negotiations with high-level members of Biden’s own party, Manchin agreed to back the legislation, allowing him to move forward.
U.S. lawmakers then spent the night voting in the Upper House on a series of amendments to the bill introduced by members of both parties, with Democrats rejecting Republican calls for adjournment until morning.
The centerpiece of the stimulus package is a new round of means-tested direct payments to most Americans – worth $ 1,400 per person – that would be the third government check since the start of the pandemic.
The first handed out $ 1,200 to every eligible U.S. citizen a year ago at the start of the crisis, and a second payment of $ 600 was made last December.
But that plan is much broader, with an extension of federal emergency unemployment benefits worth $ 300 a week through early September, $ 350 billion in aid to states and local governments, and the expansion of a tax credit for children.
Unemployment benefit provisions and eligibility for direct checks were both curtailed in the home stretch of Senate negotiations on the bill under pressure from centrist Democrats.
However, the biggest blow to the Progressive Democrats and the White House came when a group of moderate lawmakers, including Manchin, joined with Republicans in rejecting calls to include an increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15. time.