House approves Biden’s $1.9tr Covid-19 relief plan

Published February 28, 2021
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, meets with reporters before the House votes to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. — AP
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, meets with reporters before the House votes to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. — AP

WASHINGTON: The US House passed an enormous, $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package early on Saturday, hailed by Democrats as a critical step in funneling new funding towards vaccinations, overburdened local governments, and millions of families devastated by the pandemic.

Four days after the Covid-19 death toll surpassed 500,000 in the United States, the sprawling measure backed by President Joe Biden and seen as a moral imperative by many now heads to the Senate for consideration next week.

“After 12 months of death and despair, the American recovery begins tonight,” congressman Brendan Boyle told the House chamber shortly before lawmakers approved the package on a rare post-midnight vote of 219 to 212. No Republicans voted for the bill.

The sharply partisan result comes weeks after Biden’s January 20 inauguration, when he called for unity in the face of a once-in-a-century health crisis.

The package cleared the House despite a major setback for Democrats, when a key Senate official ruled on Thursday that the final version of the bill could not include a minimum wage hike.

Biden had campaigned extensively on raising the national minimum wage to $15 an hour, from a rate of $7.25 that has stood since 2009.

He aimed to include it in the rescue plan, which directly provides $1,400 cheques to most Americans and allots billions of dollars to boost vaccine delivery, help schools re-open and fund state and local governments.

It extends unemployment benefits, set to expire in mid-March, by about six months, as well as a moratorium on evictions for millions of people struggling to pay rent.

The bill is on track to be the second largest US stimulus ever, after the $2tr package Donald Trump signed last March to fight the pandemic’s devastating spread.

Even as the Senate parliamentarian ruled against including the minimum wage language in the bill as written under budget reconciliation rules, Democrats kept the provision, highlighting their “fight for 15” as a top party priority.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2021

Opinion

Diverging paths
Updated 15 Apr 2021

Diverging paths

It seems that Imran Khan is feeling the pain of the adjustment that he has had to undertake.
Judging the judges
15 Apr 2021

Judging the judges

In the end, like Joan of Arc, they were made to pay with their blood.
People to people
Updated 15 Apr 2021

People to people

By facilitating access, the governments of India and Pakistan can start to build trust and understanding between the two publics.
Hostage to extremism
Updated 14 Apr 2021

Hostage to extremism

Once again, the TLP has succeeded in bringing the administration to its knees.

Editorial

Afghanistan exit
Updated 15 Apr 2021

Afghanistan exit

Afghanistan has suffered for decades as powerful local players have refused to compromise and have insisted on hogging power.
15 Apr 2021

New census

EARLIER this week, the Council of Common Interests approved the controversial National Population and Housing ...
15 Apr 2021

With no place to go

No matter where one looks, one can’t escape the heartrending sight of scores of children of all ages begging, ...
TLP protests
Updated 14 Apr 2021

TLP protests

For the good of the country, and its image as a nation where extremism has no place, such groups must be strictly reined in.
14 Apr 2021

PPP’s formal exit

THE PPP’s formal resignation from all offices of the PDM comes as no surprise after weeks of tension and public...
14 Apr 2021

Natanz attack

AS the P5+1 and Iran try to breathe life back into the JCPOA, as the nuclear deal is officially known, it appears...