The House expects to pass the $1.9 trillion stimulus package on Friday February 26th. Democrats hope to get the bill, which includes direct payments, jobless benefits, and funds for vaccination efforts, to President Biden's desk before unemployment aid expires on March 14.
The $1.9 trillion bill is expected to pass both the House and the Senate — and along party lines. Republicans have overwhelmingly pushed back on the size of the bill, calling for a bill less than half the size of what's proposed. However, Democrats can still pass the bill without Republican support.
What Does the $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package Contain?
Here's some of what the relief package contains:
- A $400 per week unemployment insurance supplement and an extension of programs expanding jobless benefits to millions more Americans through Aug. 29
- $1,400 direct payments to most Americans and the same sum for dependents
- $20 billion for a national vaccination program and $50 billion for testing
- $350 billion for state, local and tribal government relief
- Payments to families of up to $3,600 per child over a year
- $170 billion to K-12 schools and higher education institutions to cover reopening costs and student aid
- An increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025
Why is the Bill So Much?
Lawmakers agree aid is needed but many disagree on the size — and think another $1.9 trillion is too much.
Those in favor of the spending argue the U.S. economy is still in a precarious place with millions of Americans still out of work thanks to pandemic-era layoffs and forced government closures.
Economists critical of the plan tend to focus on the size of the legislation and the potential benefits of a bill better tailored to meet the needs of businesses and workers in industries that continue to suffer the most due to the pandemic, like airlines, food service and hospitality.
What About the $15 Minimum Wage Hike?
The minimum wage increase is also a big part of the bill, however in a ruling last night, it was found that lawmakers cannot include this minimum wage increase in the budget reconciliation proposal.
However, the House has kept this in the legislation as of the moment, so it is unclear what will happen with the minimum wage increase. The last time the US raised the minimum wage was in 2009, when it was raised to $7.25 per hour.