House sweeping Biden stimulus package, decisive first step

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The US House of Representatives on Saturday approved the vast stimulus package of 1.9 billion dollars wanted by Joe Biden thanks to the votes of the Democrats alone, a first crucial step before its consideration in the Senate where the increase in the minimum wage should be abandoned.

• Read also: Biden stimulus plan: House votes Friday, Senate uncertainty

Time is running out to support the world’s largest economy, hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. And the new Democratic president initially wanted to see his “American rescue plan” adopted in early February.

Faced with the delay, he urged Congress this week to “move quickly”.

After hours of debate, the bill was adopted overnight in the lower house by 219 votes, all Democrats, against 212 (including two Democrats), the Republicans denouncing measures too expensive and poorly targeted.

“The text is approved,” said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shortly after two in the morning, to applause from her group.

The text will be sent to the Senate next week, where the measure providing for an increase in the minimum income – up to $ 15 per hour, by 2025 – is expected to be withdrawn.

Confident, the Democrats are counting on their tiny majority in the upper house so that it in turn is approved.

The final version of the text will then return to the House, where the Democratic leaders said Friday they had enough votes for the stimulus plan to be adopted definitively, with or without an increase in the minimum wage.

“We must approve this plan before March 14”, when the payment of prolonged unemployment benefits in a previous aid plan will cease, warned the majority leader Steny Hoyer.


“After a year of pandemic and economic crisis, Americans need to know that their government is acting for them. And that as President Biden said: “help is coming”, ”Nancy Pelosi said before the vote.

“If we do not implement this aid plan, the results could be catastrophic,” she added.

Opposite, the Republicans denounced a titanic plan which does “nothing but throw money down the drain”.

“But will it help people get back to work?” No ”, accused the leader of the Republican minority, Kevin McCarthy.

“Democrats are so ashamed of all the waste of money unrelated to Covid in this text that they are passing it through in the middle of the night,” he continued.

“Inevitable” rise

It is an unknown figure in Congress who had shaken up the progress of this massive plan on Thursday evening.

The guardian of the complex procedures of the Senate, Elizabeth MacDonough, ruled that the text could not include the increase in the minimum hourly wage 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 announcing that he would attempt to separately advance the increase in the federal minimum wage, currently at $ 7.25 per hour.

A route also anticipated Friday evening by the Democratic leaders of Congress.

“It is inevitable, in our eyes to all, to achieve the minimum wage of 15 dollars”, hammered Nancy Pelosi in the hemicycle, by promising to work there “actively”.

Big bosses

The withdrawal of the hike in the minimum wage could ultimately facilitate the adoption of the support plan, as some moderate Democrats were opposed to the measure.

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

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

But moderate Democrats might oppose it. And the “parliamentarian” too.

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

In detail, the Biden plan provides for tens of billions of dollars for the acceleration of the pace of vaccinations and the deployment of tests, but also $ 130 billion to help schools and high schools to reopen despite the pandemic.

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