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Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Compromises being made to pass $1.9 trillion COVID bill

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Compromises being made to pass $1.9 trillion COVID bill
Compromises being made to pass $1.9 trillion COVID bill

The United States Congress is scrambling to complete work on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill before some existing pandemic-related benefits are due to expire.

Freddie Joyner has more.

After nearly 11 hours, Senate clerks early Friday finished reading every word of President Biden’s 628-page COVID relief bill - out loud.

On Friday, Senators began debating the $1.9 trillion aid package -- rejecting an amendment to more than double the federal minimum wage over five years from $7.25 an hour to $15…a proposal offered up by Senator Bernie Sanders.

[SANDERS] “when the Senator says why are we spending all this money, the answer is that we are living in the most difficult moment in the modern history of this country.

Maybe even a more difficult moment since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.” That measure fell far short of the 60 votes needed - and was the first in what is expected to be a lengthy series of amendments on the bill that could extend into the weekend.

According to a Democratic congressional aide, liberal and moderate Democrats did strike a deal to offer an amendment that would scale back federal unemployment benefits in the COVID bill to $300 per week, down from the proposed $400.

A compromise made to extend coverage... Meanwhile, Republicans have not been shy about their opposition to Biden’s $1.9 trillion aid package.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the legislation "a poorly-targeted rush job." [MCCONNELL] “We're about to watch one party ram through a partisan package on the thinnest of margins.

Our country is already set for a roaring recovery.

We are already on track to bounce back from the crisis.” The relief legislation includes funding for vaccines and medical supplies, extends jobless assistance and provides a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state and local governments.

Opinion polls indicate broad public support.

If the Senate approves the bill, it will have to be sent back to the Democratic-controlled House for final passage.

Democrats hope Biden can sign the bill into law before March 14, when some of the current benefits run out.

With no votes to spare, Senate Democrats have tweaked the measure to ensure all 50 of their members would support it, which would then allow Vice President Kamala Harris to cast the deciding vote if no Republicans support it.

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