In brief remarks after the House vote, Mr. Biden said he hoped for "quick action" from senators on the spending package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan.
"We have no time to waste. If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus," he said. "We can finally get our economy moving again. And the people of this country have suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suffering. The American Rescue Plan does just that."
The Senate is likely to take up the measure this week, and will need to iron out some wrinkles that have emerged during negotiations. The biggest hitch is a provision in the House measure that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. The Senate bill is unlikely to include the increase after the Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the pay hike can't be included in the upper chamber's version of the relief plan.
In the face of those roadblocks, a "Plan B" to tax some big corporations that pay below an unspecified wage, as proposed by some Senate Democrats, is now off the table, a senior Democratic aide told CBS News.
"The bill has an increasingly direct pathway to passage after a procedural decision removed the minimum wage issue from the table," said Height Securities analyst Benjamin Salisbury in a research note. He gives the American Rescue Plan an 85% chance of passing in the Senate and becoming law.
"A dose of her own medicine": Dolly Parton gets COVID vaccine New report lists worst states for kids during the pandemic Small businesses see staff COVID-19 vaccines as booster shot to sales U.S. workplace safety enforcer failed during COVID-19, watchdog says Although the loss of the wage increase is a blow to low-income workers, its removal from Senate negotiations will help speed passage of the bill by mid-March, according to analysts. The Senate could vote on the package later this week, with the House then casting its final vote over the weekend of March 6 or during the week of March 8, according to analysts.
If passed, another massive injection of money into the economy should help spur a rebound, with Oxford Economics chief U.S. economist Gregory Daco forecasting growth of as high as 7% in 2021 amid pent-up demand from consumers and businesses. That would the fastest rate of U.S. economic expansion since the early 1980s,
Passage before March 14?
Democrats are pushing to pass the bill before March 14, when the current extra $300 in weekly unemployment aid is set to expire.
In addition to the $1,400 checks, the bill would also boost weekly unemployment benefits from $300 to $400; provide funding for small businesses, schools, and cities and states; offer families with kids a tax break; and boost government spending on COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
To be sure, disputes or disagreements could still derail the bill. But Democrats are using a process called budget reconciliation to pass the legislation, which means only a simple majority in the Senate is required for approval, rather than the 60 votes required by most bills to overcome a potential filibuster. In other words, Democrats don't need support from Republican senators to pass the rescue plan.
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