By Jade Boone, Howard University News Service
Americans have been left without the promised support from the government since the last release of the $600 stimulus checks. President Biden voiced his support to provide Americans with $2,000, but it was quickly lessened to $1,400 when Biden assumed office. After many negotiations, the House Budget Committee voted Monday to advance President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package. This package is set up to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic struggle America is facing.
The package includes $1,400 direct checks to Americans making less than 75,000 annually, direct aid to small businesses, a $400 per week jobless benefit supplement, direct funding to state and local governments, $20 billion into the Covid-19 vaccinations and an extension of programs making millions more Americans eligible for unemployment insurance. Funding will also be allocated towards testing and local state and government relief.
In order for these benefits to be released, it must become law and passed by the House and the Senate. The Democratic and Republican staffers in the Senate will sit down as soon as Tuesday to meet with Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough to discuss whether the $15 minimum wage will be considered under the budget reconciliation process. This would allow the package to pass with just 50 votes as opposed to 60 votes. The decision MacDonough makes will determine the outcome of what Americans can expect to see in Biden’s stimulus package. Minimum wage could potentially be increased to $15 an hour in 2025.
As the country is suffering financially, it is also suffering economically. As of earlier this month, more than 18 million people were receiving unemployment benefits. Last week was the 47th straight week that total initial claims were greater than the worst week of the Great Recession. Many are in need of relief and the Democrats are set on providing Americans with what is needed.
Democrats plan to make the next formal step of advancing the bill through the House Rules Committee and to the full chamber Friday morning. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to “not allow Republican obstructionism” to block relief. The bill is currently making its way towards the White House and is set to be on Biden’s desk before the March 14 deadline for unemployment benefits. The unemployment programs allocating $300 per week along with other benefits expire that day.
Schumer plans to keep the caucus together as a single democratic vote against the bill could flush the whole thing. “I’ve made a pitch today to our entire caucus and I said that we need to pass this bill, the American people, the American public demands it,” Schumer said.