Senate Takes Up COVID-19 Relief Bill

The U.S. Senate is set to take up the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill today, with Democrats set to stand firm on key priorities while sorting out some aspects that have come under scrutiny. Their aim is to get the bill ready for President Biden to sign by March 14.

  • First expected to go is the $15/hour federal minimum wage increase, ruled by the senate parliamentarian not eligible by rules to be included in the package.
  • Also on the chopping block is a $1.5 million bridge connecting Canada and New York. Schumer aides say the funding had been requested by the former guy’s administration.
  • Also in question is a subway expansion in California’s Silicon Valley, near Pelosi’s home.
  • Joe Manchin is pushing to scale back unemployment benefits to $300 from $400/week. A Democratic aide says they may agree to discontinue those benefits if unemployment in a given state drops below a certain level.
  • Qualifications for $1,400 direct payments may be pared down to those most in need, in lower-income households.
  • Independent Angus King is looking to address an expansion of high-speed internet access to rural areas.

One area where Democrats are sticking hard are allocations to state and local governments, with $350 billion to offset uncertain tax revenues and rising costs.

The bill would pay for vaccines and medical supplies as well as help small businesses.

The Senate could vote on the bill by the end of the week, and send it back to the House to sign off on changes before it goes to the President’s desk.

Source info at Reuters.