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A New COVID-19 Relief Bill?

Throughout the last 11 months, Americans have been faced with multiple challenges: unemployment, the spread of COVID-19, and an unforgettable presidential election. Millions of Americans have lost their lives, jobs, and businesses this year. However, due to the significant unemployment rate, the House of Representatives will pass a new Coronavirus relief bill in the coming weeks. The bill will be passed as House Democrats prepare to implement President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal next week, which will increase the minimum wage to $15. Thus, as many continue to struggle with financial and economic hardships, lawmakers will work to aid Americans during this difficult time.   


Early next week, the House Budget Committee is expected to implement the new legislation, which Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said should pass the full House by the end of the month. The speaker told reporters, “On Monday we will begin working on the specifics of the bill,” after meeting with the president and Democratic House Committee chairs at the White House. In addition, the House Majority Whip, James Clyburn, stated that the bill will have the votes to pass, in spite of some concerns about its cost. However, Democrats passed the budget resolution in the Senate with Vice President Harris’s first tie-breaking vote.  


While President Biden has said that he hopes to gain Republicans’ support for the aid package, Democrats have already begun to set up the framework to pass the proposal as soon as possible without Republican support. Without using reconciliation, the Democratic Party will have to win 10 Republicans over in a split Senate. 


The budget resolution instructs committees to write legislation reflecting the President’s aid plan, while staying under the $1.9 trillion budget. Some of the provisions Democrats hope to pass include $1,400 direct payments, $350 billion in state, local and tribal government relief, $50 billion for virus testing, $170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions, a $30 billion rent and utility assistance fund, a $400 per week jobless benefit through September, and a $20 billion national COVID-19 vaccination program.


Though, as President Biden and many Democrats are pushing to implement the relief plan, some Democrats have raised concerns about the size of the proposal. For instance, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia expressed his concerns regarding the size of the proposal and called for limits on who can receive the  $1,400 checks. Hence, President Biden stated that he would support capping the deposits at lower income levels, but said: “I’m not cutting the size of the checks.” 


Democrats hope to pass President Biden’s aid plan before March 14th, when a $300 per week unemployment addition approved in December expires. Democratic House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth of New York said in a statement: “Next week committees will begin writing the detailed legislative text for the Biden American Rescue Plan, so that we can finish our work well before lifeline unemployment assistance expires.” Mr. Yarmuth added: “The Budget Committee looks forward to receiving committees’ legislation by February 16 and then preparing the measure for floor consideration.” 


Finally, as Americans continue to overcome economic hardships, lawmakers will work to pass the coronavirus relief bill to aid Americans during these challenging times.