Biden stimulus plan: House votes Friday, Senate uncertainty

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Washington | The US House of Representatives votes Friday night on Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package, but after a procedural setback in the Senate, the minimum wage hike Democrats demanded will certainly not appear in the final version.

• Read also: The minimum wage hike will not be part of the US stimulus package

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It was an unknown figure in Congress who shoved the progress of this titanic plan Thursday evening, which the new American president initially wanted to see adopted in early February.

The guardian of the complex procedures of the Senate, Elizabeth MacDonough, ruled that the text could not include the increase in the hourly minimum wage to 15 dollars, enshrined in the bill.

If some progressives were indignant, calling for overstepping the judgment of this “parliamentarian”, an unelected official, Joe Biden said on Thursday evening that he “respected” him.

While urging Congress to “move quickly to adopt the US bailout”. And by announcing that he would attempt to separately advance the increase in the federal minimum wage, currently at $ 7.25.

The message to Democrats, who control the majority in Congress, is clear: Time is running out to revive a U.S. economy hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Act “quickly to pass this law to give Americans the urgent support and help they need,” the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) wrote to parliamentarians on Friday morning.

In the evening, the House will vote on the original bill, which includes raising the minimum wage to $ 15 per hour, by 2025.

A measure “necessary”, justified Thursday evening the Democratic President of the House Nancy Pelosi. “This provision will therefore remain in the + American rescue plan + which will be put to a vote”, the time of which has not yet been announced, she insisted.

In fact, this decision involves a longer parliamentary shuttle.

Given their majority in the lower house, the $ 1.9 trillion plan is likely to be easily adopted there. It will then be sent, next week, to the Senate, where the salary increase should be withdrawn.

If it is in turn adopted, this text will go back to the House for a vote on a final harmonized version.

$ 1,400 checks

The withdrawal of the increase in the minimum wage could, in fact, facilitate the adoption of the support plan. Because some moderate Democrats were opposed to this measure.

But with its tiny majority in the Senate, and the announced opposition of the Republicans to the Biden plan, the party imperatively needs unity to pass this project.

Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressive Democrats, however, were studying on Friday an alternative to encourage the increase in minimum incomes: to introduce in the vast support plan an amendment creating tax penalties for large companies that pay less than a “subsistence minimum” .

But moderate Democrats could also oppose it.

Faced with uncertainty, the big American bosses are calling for quick action.

In detail, the Biden plan aims to support the economy and the fight against Covid-19.

It provides several tens of billions of dollars for the acceleration of the pace of vaccinations and the deployment of tests but also 130 billion dollars to help schools and high schools to reopen despite the pandemic.

New aid checks in the amount of $ 1,400 are expected to be sent to Americans, depending on their income level, and the length of unemployment benefits extended until September 30, 2021.

Democrats have vowed to adopt these measures before March 14, when the payment of extended unemployment benefits in a previous aid plan ceases.