President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill with $1,400 stimulus checks likely to fail in Senate
The U.S. House of Representatives is on track to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.
The COVID relief plan includes another round of stimulus checks, more unemployment and rental assistance, additional support for small businesses and increased funding for vaccinations and testing and more.
The plan was being considered Friday evening in a marathon Rules Committee meeting before going to the floor. That set up an early vote this morning, unless the House decides to take a break and postpone the floor vote until later today, according to national reports.
While this would be the sixth round of aid from the federal government, it is likely to fail in the Senate due to the House Democrats’ inclusion of a federal minimum wage hike from $7.25 to $15 per hour, phased in over four years. The Senate ruled Thursday that the provision is not compliant with rules governing the budget process that Congress is using to pass the bill with simple majorities.
The House Democrats can still try to pass a wage hike through regular order, but it could only be passed with at least 60 Senate votes, which is very unlikely to happen because of the lack of House Republicans’ support.
The president’s relief plan would send another $1,400 per person to eligible recipients, on top of the $600 payments that were sent out earlier this month. These checks would also go to adult dependents and households with mixed immigration status who were left out of earlier rounds.
In addition, the jobless would receive $400 a week, a boost from the previous $300 a week in Congress’ December package.
Other highlights include: $25 billion in rental assistance for low- and moderate-income households; $5 billion for renters struggling to pay utility bills; $5 billion for homelessness assistance; a combined $40 billion for child care providers; a boosted Child Tax Credit of $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for those between ages 6 and 17; subsidies for health insurance premiums; $15 billion for small businesses; $350 billion to state, local and territorial governments to keep frontline workers employed and maintain vital services; $20 billion for a national vaccination program; and $50 billion for COVID-19 testing.
The president also extended many of the COVID-related benefits, such as the paid sick and family leave benefits and the 15% increase in food stamp benefits.
Also on Friday, the House passed the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, which included Rep. Carbajal’s Central Coast Heritage Protection Act. If the bill, introduced by Rep. Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, is signed into law, there will be nearly 250,000 acres of public land in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument designated as wilderness, the highest form of federal protection available.
“One of the best things about living on the Central Coast is our access to beautiful public lands, like the Carrizo Plain National Monument and Los Padres National Forest,” Rep. Carbajal said in a statement. “The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act will help preserve these public lands for future generations to enjoy and continue to bolster our local economy. I am thrilled the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act has passed the House once again and I urge my Senate colleagues to move quickly and send this crucial bill to President Biden to sign into law.”
The Central Coast Protection act passed by a vote of 227 to 200.
The act passed the House last year as part of the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, but stalled in the Senate. Rep. Carbajal hopes the Biden Administration’s support and the Democratic majority in the Senate will allow the bill to receive due consideration in the Senate this Congress.
“I am in full support of the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act and I look forward to the day when young disadvantaged kids from my district can discover the new world of the Los Padres National Forest and all the beauty and peacefulness that can be found there,” 5th District County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said in a statement. “These new world class trails could metaphorically be looked upon as escape routes to a better world and an antidote to the violence plaguing our communities. I am so very thankful that Rep. Carbajal resurrected this plan that my former boss Rep. Gallegly initiated years ago.”
Nearly 500 Central Coast landowners, businesses, elected officials, farmers, ranchers, civic leaders, wineries, recreationalists and outfitters have supported the bill, along with organizations such as the Carrizo Plain Conservancy, Los Padres ForestWatch and more.
“With outdoor recreation often privatized, the Central Coast Heritage Act is a step in the right direction in protecting open spaces and securing everybody’s right to the outdoors,” said Rebeca Garcia, Santa Maria Policy Advocate with Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy. “Accessible outdoor spaces are a crucial contributor to improving the overall health of our working class and immigrant families.
“Communities of color are also often most at risk to unsafe living conditions, and this act will ensure our communities have clean air and water from Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Thank you to everyone fighting for equitable access to outdoor spaces and clean water for our vulnerable communities.”