Senate Democrats consider changes to House virus relief, stimulus checks bill

Minimum wage

Minimum wage

Democrats' hopes of including a minimum wage increase in their Dollars 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill seemed all but dead Monday as the Senate prepared to debate its own version of the House-passed aid package.

Senate Democrats over the weekend gave up on the idea of trying to pass the minimum wage hike by adding tax penalties to the COVID-19 bill, after earlier being told that Senate rules governing "reconciliation" prevented them including a straight-up wage hike to the legislation.

Now it's up to the Senate to pass their version and changes are expected. It looms as an initial test of his ability to unite Democrats in the Senate - where the party has no votes to spare - and risks lasting damage to his influence should he fail. Any attempt to drop the provision would likely provoke defections, a daunting prospect considering the stimulus passed the House with a 219-212 margin on Saturday.

Democrats have said they will seek to include the $15 an hour minimum wage proposal in a separate legislative package to be advanced later in Biden's administration. A White House statement said the group was united in the goal of quickly passing a significant package that reflects the scope of the challenges our country is facing. Only Democrats voted for it.

Part of the legislation in the House Democrats' bill includes almost $130 billion for schools to ensure a safe return to the classroom. It also has money for child care, tax breaks for families with children and states willing to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income residents.

Democrats are considering several changes in the House measure, but they seem modest compared to dropping the minimum wage increase.

Nancy Pelosi has said she's "absolutely" confident the bill could pass without the minimum wage increase, Bloomberg reports.

"Now, the bill moves to the United States Senate, where I hope it will receive quick action".

The stimulus bill includes $1,400 checks for most Americans making less than $75,000 a year.

The backpedaling did not end hopes of addressing the minimum wage issue in Congress. Democrats and some Republicans have voiced support for the idea of raising the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25 an hour, for the first time since 2009, although they disagree on how much.

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He said even with the reduced spending as planned by 2022, the government will need to find billions of dollars of new money. That includes $1.5 billion for key economic sectors such as energy agriculture and forestry.

After the parliamentarian said that provision would have to be deleted, Sens.

Last week, Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said they were working on plans to increase taxes on large corporations that don't meet certain targets for workers' pay.

"The president's focus this week and in coming weeks, until it's passed, is on the American Rescue Plan", Psaki said, pointing to widespread needs around the nation.

"This week, the Senate will take up the measure". Richard Blumenthal of CT.

Another Democrat, Senator Richard Blumenthal, said he was optimistic the Democrats would find a way to raise the wage, "even though we may not have the votes right now". The gambit failed because the White House and many Democrats in Congress opposed overruling the parliamentarian. Senate moderates are wary of erasing procedures that the party has used in the past, and could use again, to protect its priorities when it is in the minority. Khanna's letter cites a moment when, in 1967, former Vice President Hubert Humphrey bucked the rules authority's guidance to "reduce the filibuster threshold from two-thirds of those present to three-fifths", among other instances.Some progressives are now turning their attention specifically towards Harris to do so, who could ultimately overturn MacDonough's stance.

A group of House progressives urged Biden on Monday to overrule the Senate parliamentarian, who determined last week that the $15 proposal could not pass by reconciliation.

Progressives want the wage increase kept in the COVID-19 bill.

"Outdated and complex" Senate rules "must not be an impediment to improving people's lives", the House members, led by Rep. Ro Khanna of California, wrote in a letter to Biden and Harris.

Millions of Americans are depending on their elected representatives to do everything possible to deliver them a raise.

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