Biden and The Democrats Pass New Stimulus Bill

Do you support the passing of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package

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The pandemic and economic crisis has wreaked havoc on everyday Americans. Threats of mass evictions, hunger, and death have been present in the minds of many, but on March 6 the United States Senate approved a 1.9 trillion dollar stimulus package in an attempt to provide aid and security. The passing of this bill came to a close vote of 50-49, with no republicans voting in favor of the stimulus. Biden praised the congressional democrats’ actions saying the package was “so desperately needed”
“This nation has suffered too much for much too long, and everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation,” Biden said to reporters in the White House hours after the Senate vote.

Prior to the 50-49 vote ensued an amendment process that people are now calling “vote-o-rama.” This began on Friday morning starting with Vermont  Senator Bernie Sanders’ vote on a fifteen dollar minimum wage amendment.

 Even after all senators cast their vote, the amendment process purposefully dragged on  by democrats for nearly 12 hours. This gave the party time to convince West Virginia democratic Senator Joe Manchin to support an amendment that would provide further unemployment insurance benefits. What followed was 38 more amendments causing “vote-o-rama” to last for 25 hours.

The final bill includes more aid to the unemployed, more checks, money for state and local governments, aid to schools, aid to businesses, further funding for testing and vaccinations, aid in healthcare payments, bigger tax breaks, and rental and homeowner’s assistance. 

The two most hotly contested parts of the package, the unemployment aid and the checks, have been praised by much of the left, but has seen scorn from some of the right. In the bill unemployment insurance benefits will extend 300 dollar weekly payments on top of state unemployment money, as well as fully subsidizing COBRA, a program that allows former employees to stay on older work health insurance plans for a limited time, health insurance premiums until the end of September. 

When it comes to checks the amount of money and who gets it have been tightened. On the campaign trail during the Georgia runoff Senate elections Joe Biden promised 2000 dollar checks if both democrats won. Since then the amount has lessened to 1400 dollars. Some democratic supporters defend this claiming Biden meant 2000 including the 600 dollar stimulus passed in late December, while progressives such Ryan Knight on twitter are claiming Biden “lied about $2k checks.” 

The Senate deal cut off the checks to individuals who make 80,000 dollars or more, heads of households who make 120,000 or more, and couples who make 160,000 or more. Despite this around 98% of households will still receive a check according to a White House official. 

This new stimulus package is being sent to the House of Representatives again on March 10. This is due to the fact that the Senate made adaptations to the bill approved by the House, and so the House must affirm this new version of the bill before it is put into effect. These amendments include: 

  • The removal of the 15 dollar minimum wage from the bill 
  • The tightening of the 1400 dollar checks as previously mentioned
  • The reduction of unemployment benefits from 400 dollars a week sent out by the federal government to 300 dollars weekly
  • The reduction of aid to state and local governments 
  • The reduction of aid for healthcare
  • The cancellation of two infrastructure projects in CA and NY. 
  • Additional aid for FEMA, which aids the homeless
  • More funding for Amtrack and the United States Digital Service agency

Even though House progressives losing out on amendments they pushed for, such as the 15 dollar minimum wage, democrats still passed the stimulus March 10.

“Despite the fact that we believe any weakening of the House provisions were bad policy and bad politics, the reality is that the final amendments were relatively minor concessions,” said democratic Representative and congressional Progressive caucus chair Pramila Jayapal.

On March 11 Biden signed the bill into law, allowing the stimulus package to roll out.