WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Democrats are pushing to pass President Biden’s COVID relief package before key benefits start to expire on March 14. The emergency spending measures will also provide more money for vaccines, testing and tracing.
The White House said Biden is personally involved in the negotiations to ensure every Senate Democrat supports the $1.9 trillion emergency aid package. Democrats can’t afford to lose a single vote.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will vote on the emergency aid package this week, “to end through action the greatest health crisis our country has faced.”
Schumer said the package will provide “aid to the jobless, food to the hungry, direct cash payments to millions of Americans struggling, struggling with the cost of rent, groceries, medicine and utilities.”
The spending package also provides $350 billion to state and local governments and $130 billion to schools.
But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill likely won’t get Republican support.
“Even though science tells us schools can be made safe right now, about 95% of that funding won’t even go out this fiscal year,” McConnell said. “Even famous liberal economists and liberal editorial boards are saying their half-baked plan is poorly targeted to what families need.”
One controversial provision supported by most Democrats — to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour — won’t be included in the package. The Senate parliamentarian ruled it violated the rules of the process Democrats are using to pass the package.
The process, known as reconciliation, Democrats only need to get a simple majority — meaning the bill won’t need GOP support to pass.