President Joe Biden’s economic rescue plan, which includes a stimulus check of $1,400 for each American at risk, will be discussed today (Wednesday) in the US Senate where a strong battle is expected between Republicans (all against the plan) and Democrats (the majority in favor).
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said “we have to pass this bill and pass it soon.” According to the senator, the president “will have the votes we need to pass the bill” and that it is put into effect before March 14, the date on which federal unemployment benefits expire.
One point that was left out of the discussion was raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The increase in the minimum wage could not be included in the special budget rules that Democrats are using to circumvent the blockade of the legislative agenda and move the bill forward as soon as possible.
However, the liberals within the Democratic Party are not happy with the decision and that could mean that the bill is not approved because the 50 Democratic votes are needed since the 50 Republicans against are assured. Vice President Kamala Harris intervenes in the supposed tie, tipping the balance in favor of Biden’s plan.
Two of the strongest voices in favor of the $15 hourly minimum wage are Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Warren said Tuesday that Biden right now is focused on enacting the COVID-19 relief bill rather than how to maneuver to raise the minimum wage.
Biden’s economic stimulus plan includes
- Provide most Americans with another direct payment, this time for $1,400. (Republicans have proposed $1,000.)
- Extend the federal unemployment benefit bonus through August (current benefit ends mid-March) and increase the amount to $400 per week (Republicans want $300 a week through June).
- Sending $350 billion to state and local governments whose revenues have declined due to Covid-19 social distancing measures (Republicans are totally opposed).
- Allocate $130 billion to help fully reopen schools and colleges (Republicans are responding with $50 billion).
- Allocate $30 billion to help renters and landlords overcome economic losses (Republicans oppose any amount).
- Have a $50 billion fund for small business assistance (Republicans agree).
- Provide $160 billion for development, distribution, and needs related to the vaccination campaign (Republicans also agree).