House Budget Committee Passes Biden’s $1.9T COVID-19 Relief Bill: What’s Next?

How do you spell Covid Relief? S-o-c-i-a-l-i-s-m.

The House of Representatives Budget Committee approved Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Monday, paving the way for a full House vote later this week.

The legislation would shell out $1,400 direct payments, as well as increase federal unemployment benefits, send money to state and local governments, provide funds to help schools reopen and other aid programs.

Ultimately, the bill seems to be geared towards another year of strict lockdowns, rather than catalyzing the reopening process.

“We must act swiftly to put an end to this pandemic and to stem the suffering felt by so many millions,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

The measure passed the panel in a 19-16 vote.

Perhaps the most dividing issue within the bill is the progressive drive to boost the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over five years.

“It was the No. 1 priority for progressives,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash) said. “This is something we’ve run on and something we’ve promised to the American people.”

But, the minimum wage increase faces uncertainty when it heads to the Senate.

Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a democrat, has expressed that the increase to $15 from $7.25 is simply too expensive, despite his progressive colleagues’ dreams.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz) has also hinted she may oppose it. She said democrats shouldn’t rush it to passage using special rules that would let them avoid a republican filibuster, which would require an unattainable 60 votes to overcome.

So, what happens next?

The Senate parliamentarian will soon rule on whether the minimum wage portion must be excluded from the bill, Fox 59 reports.

As $1 trillion of last year’s $4 trillion in COVID-19 aid hasn’t been spent, republicans have strongly pushed back against the proposed legislation.

“An estimated $1 trillion of those funds is actually yet to be spent,” Rep. Buddy Carter told the committee. “Why do we need to spend an additional $2 trillion of money that is being taken from future generations?”

He has a point.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has also spoken out against the price of the bill, urging that the money isn’t targeting success.

“Further aid needs to be smartly targeted so the government doesn’t get in the way. But democrats want to double-down on band-aid policies like they’re planning for another year of stagnation instead of trying to set up success,” McConnell said.

Here are some of the highlights of the bill, as reported by Kiro 7 News.

  • $422.3 billion in $1,400 direct payments to households

  • $350 billion in aid to state and local governments

  • $245.8 billion for federal unemployment benefits

  • $128.6 billion for K-12 schools to help reopen schools

  • $109.2 billion for an expansion of the $2,000 child tax credit to $3,600 for children under age 6; $3,000 for children under 17

  • $81.5 billion for multi-employer pension plan aid

  • $48.5 billion for COVID-19 testing

  • $47 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Administration

  • $46 billion for contact tracing, testing and mitigation

  • $45.4 billion for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour

  • $27.9 billion for aid for metro transit systems

  • $25 billion for grants for bars and restaurants

  • $25 billion for emergency rental assistance

  • $19.1 billion for state and local governments

  • $15 billion for the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program; the program provides low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration

  • $14 billion for distribution, research and administration of vaccines

  • $7.25 billion in new money for the Paycheck Protection Program

  • $1.4 billion in funding for programs authorized under the Older Americans Act