President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan is facing stiff opposition from Republicans. However, on Wednesday, the House Democrats made their first move toward passing the $1.9T relief package, which includes $1,400 coronavirus stimulus checks, through Congress without any Republican support.
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Coronavirus stimulus checks: House moves closer to $1.9T package
On Wednesday, the House passed a budget measure by 218-212 votes. The resolution was opposed by all GOP lawmakers, as well as two Democratic lawmakers. However, the passage of the budget bill means the Senate will have to vote on the same legislation later this week.
Specifically, passing the budget measure is the first step in the reconciliation process, a procedure that allows bills to pass in the Senate with a simple majority vote. Also, the passage of the bill directs committees to start drafting parts of Biden’s bill.
Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, chair of the Joint Economic Committee, noted the passage of the budget bill will "set us on a path to defeating the virus and providing urgent relief for millions of Americans."
Republicans, on the other hand, criticized the bill, saying it downplays Biden’s promise of a bipartisan deal. Most Republicans oppose the package because of its high cost.
Earlier on Wednesday, Biden had a discussion with Democrats saying that he is open to improving key provisions of his $1.9 trillion proposal. However, he did stress the importance of delivering the relief package quickly.
Also, during a call with House Democrats, the president said he is willing to compromise on the eligibility of the next coronavirus stimulus checks. However, he is unwilling to compromise on the size of the stimulus checks, says a report from Politico, citing multiple sources on the call.
What do Democrats and Republicans say?
Talking about GOP criticism of Biden’s plan, House Budget Chair John Yarmuth said, “Nothing in this resolution should come as a surprise,” adding “We cannot afford to slow down.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also made similar comments about the legislation, saying Democrats agreed to a "big and bold" approach. "We want to do it bipartisan, but we must be strong," Schumer told reporters.
Democrats may be confident, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would be waiting for the budget legislation with a “host of amendments” during a marathon “vote-a-rama” on Thursday.
Further, McConnell noted that they would raise objections including whether or not taxpayers should fund “checks for illegal immigrants” and whether taxes should be raised on small businesses and whether funding should go to “school districts where the unions refuse to let schools open.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, who supports bipartisan talks rather than Democrats’ go-it-alone approach, said Biden told him that Democrats can’t afford to waste time by negotiating for months, and then eventually passing the package without GOP support.
“If it’s $1.9 trillion, so be it,” Manchin told MSNBC on Wednesday. “If it’s a little smaller than that and we find a targeted need, then that’s what we’re going to do.”