Written by ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) – Republicans strongly opposed the $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill proposed by Democrats as lawmakers awaited a Senate lawmaker’s decision that could bolster or potentially destroy a basic provision on raising the federal minimum wage.
Despite a majority in Congress, Democratic leaders were ready to push a broad package through the House of Representatives on Friday. They hoped the Senate, where change is likely to happen soon enough to pass a law on President Joe Biden’s desk by mid-March.
By the end of Wednesday, no Republican in any of the chambers had publicly stated that he would support the law. Republican leaders honed attacks on the package as a killer of labor that does too little to rebuild schools or businesses closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it was not only wasteful but even unscrupulous.
“I haven’t seen a Republican find something they agree with,” said Kevin McCarthy, a minority leader in the House of Representatives. “I think all Republicans believe in three simple things: they want a bill that brings us back to work, back to school and back to health. This bill is too expensive, too corrupt and too liberal. “
The hardening opposition has suggested that Biden’s first major legislative initiative may face unanimous opposition from the Republican Party. This was a counterpoint to the new president’s refrain during his campaign to bring the country closer and reproduce the Republican wall that new President Barack Obama faced in 2009 and much of his administration.
Democrats showed no signs of retreat, citing assistance that the measure will extend to people, businesses, state and local governments.
“If Republicans in Congress want to oppose all of this, I answer: good luck,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., in the Senate.
By Wednesday evening, the greatest tension was caused by the decision expected from Elizabeth McDonough, a non-partisan arbitrator of the Senate under its rules, which promised huge political and legislative consequences.
The relief bill includes a provision that would raise the federal minimum wage for five years to $ 15 an hour. The parliamentarian is involved because Democrats are pursuing a total measure of $ 1.9 trillion through Congress under special rules that will allow them to avoid Republican claims to the Senate.
The same rules prohibit provisions with only “accidental” effects on the federal budget because they are largely driven by other policy objectives. The parliamentarian decides whether this test will pass.
Because Republicans are strongly opposed to raising the minimum wage, the only way to survive is to include it in a bill protected from harm as a measure of relief from COVID-19. Democrats will need 60 votes to end the filibuster, which is impossible for them in the evenly divided 50 to 50 Senate.
If the parliamentarian decides that the provision on the minimum wage can remain in the bill, it will be a great incentive for his supporters. But there would be no guarantee that the measure would persist because some tolerants oppose it or want it repealed. This testifies to the grueling trade about its final form.
The decision of the parliamentarian that the increase of the minimum wage should be abolished from the bill can be fatal, but not necessary. Democrats could use a rarely used procedural step to include a minimum wage provision in the bill, garnering just 51 votes, but it was unclear whether they would be able to garner enough support to do so.
The minimum wage has been $ 7.25 since 2009. Winning the increase is a top priority for progressives at a time when Democrats control Congress and the White House.
The bill would provide millions of Americans with direct payments of $ 1,400 to help them overcome a pandemic that has suspended most of the economy for a year and killed half a million people. It contains billions of dollars on vaccines and testing on COVID-19, schools, state and local governments and emergency unemployment benefits, while providing tax cuts or benefits for many families with children.
As a sign of tough policies ahead, top Republicans have proposed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of California, and Sumer squeeze money into the bill for their states.
McCarthy said the bill has $ 100 million to help expand the BART commuter rail system in the San Francisco area south to San Jose. The project was previously approved by the Trump administration and is not located in the San Francisco area of Pelosi, said a senior aide to the Democratic Party.
McCarthy and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Suggested that Sumer won money on the bridge that connects northern New York with Canada. A senior aide to the Democratic Party said the bill contained $ 1.5 million on a bridge located in the county of MP Eliza Stefanik, RN.Y. The aide said it was requested in 2020 by the Trump administration’s transportation department, headed by Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife.
Source: AP News
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