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BOSTON (CBS) – Things usually move slowly in Washington D.C. but the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief/stimulus package proposed by President Biden is on a fast track.
It’s a fluid situation, but here’s where things stand right now on some key elements of the bill: READ MORE:
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The Biden plan calls for people making up to $75,000 a year and couples earning up to $150,000 to receive $1,400 checks.
The Republican counteroffer is for $1,000 checks with cutoff income levels of $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples.
Both sides have said they’re willing to negotiate but so far neither has budged. But polling shows the Biden plan has overwhelming public support, with even 40 percent of Republicans backing the higher figures.
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The Biden bill also wants to boost the current $2,000 child tax credit to up to $3,600 depending on the age of the child, and it would for the first time reach the poorest families who earn too little to qualify. It would also be given out in the form of monthly payments instead of a once-a-year lump sum.
This also has little chance of drawing GOP support, even though there are Republicans who back the monthly payment concept. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, now a senator from Utah, has offered a plan that would provide even more than the Biden proposal, but would pay for it by cutting other family assistance programs.
MINIMUM WAGE HIKE
This is the most controversial piece of all, the doubling of the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next four years, which the Congressional Budget Office says would boost the earnings of 17 million Americans but could also cost 1.4 million their jobs.
This one has caused rifts within the Democratic Party and been attacked by Republicans as not relevant to pandemic recovery. The Senate parliamentarian will rule on whether or not it belongs in this bill later this week. MORE NEWS:
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Democrats have targeted March 14, when the most recent round of increased federal unemployment benefits expires, as a deadline for final passage. And while Republicans are doing their best to trash the plan as a gift basket for blue states stuffed with items long coveted by liberals, they don’t seem to be getting much traction.
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Where the stimulus bill stands in Congress, and what comes next
(CNN)The major order of business for President Joe Biden and Congress is to pass a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package before the round of unemployment benefits and other aid approved in December lapse, again leaving millions of Americans short of help.
More on Covid-19 relief
- Here's what's in the House Democrats' stimulus relief plan
- Congress already approved $4 trillion in Covid relief. What happened to it?
- Here's what budget reconciliation is (and why it matters for Biden's stimulus)
- Here are the executive actions Biden has signed so far
What's riding on this negotiation is the $1,400 stimulus checks proposed by Biden even before he took office, as well as that extra federal unemployment money. Democrats have said they will get a bill
signed by mid-March.
Three key things to know about the legislation proposed by House Democrats:
- It's massive. The latest package will run to about $1.9 trillion on top of about $4 trillion already approved under former President Donald Trump. See where that money went here.
- It's sweeping. The new bill would touch everything from direct stimulus payments and extending unemployment insurance to propping up the airline industry, giving new money for vaccines and helping troubled school districts. It also currently includes a federal minimum wage increase to $15, though that may not make it through Congress. More on that below.
- It's controversial. Republicans say it's too big and want something smaller, or that Congress should wait to see how the Covid pandemic progresses before deciding to send additional aid. Democrats are split over whether to include the minimum wage hike, which is a top priority of progressives but opposed by moderates in the party.
But getting the proposal -- proposals, really, since there will be different versions between the House, Senate and White House that must be reconciled -- passed into law will test Biden's calls for unity. Read MoreWork on the plan so far has made clear not just that most Republicans have little appetite for cooperating with the Democrats who are now in charge, but also that Democrats -- whose control of Senate rests with Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote -- aren't totally unified among themselves.Continue below to find out what we know right now about where the bill is at and where it's going.Reading listA full breakdown of what's in the most recent bill proposed in the House is here.
Everything you need to know about the status of the $1,400 stimulus checks is here
.A guide to the complicated procedure Democrats will have to use to push this through the Senate, which is split 50-50, is here
.Is there a deadline for this thing to pass?Sort of. Current expanded unemployment benefits run out March 14. That's the date by which Democrats have said they must have the Covid relief bill passed into law. There are different proposals for extending these benefits. In the House, Democrats have proposed extending by an additional 24 weeks two separate programs -- one for part-time and gig workers and the other for people in more traditional state-run unemployment programs.What are the next steps?The House version is expected to get a vote as soon as Friday. Then it will be up to the Senate, which is using the arcane budget reconciliation process. Whatever version the Senate approves would also have to pass through the House.How many people could lose expanded unemployment benefits in Mach?A lot. Maybe more than 11 million -- one estimate, from The Century Foundation, predicted 4 million people would lose benefits in mid-March and an additional 7.3 million would lose benefits in subsequent weeks.The two unemployment programs were created nearly a year ago by the CARES Act, which Congress passed in March 2020 and extended in December. More than a third of Americans reported their household has had trouble covering expenses during the pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the Census.Can this bill pass by mid-March?Democrats say yes."We are on track to get this bill done and get it on the President's desk before the expiration of the enhanced unemployment benefits, which is March 14," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday.Will any Republicans join in?It doesn't look like it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that Republicans had visited the White House to ask for a smaller and "more targeted" bill. But Democrats and Biden weren't interested, he said."They're going to try to muscle this through on a totally partisan basis," McConnell told reporters Wednesday.How can Democrats pass the bill without any help from Republicans?This is where things get tricky in the Senate. Democrats plan to use a process known as "budget reconciliation," which, ironically, was developed to keep the federal budget in check. But it also provides Democrats the only way around Senate rules and pass things by only a simple majority, which in this case would only require a party-line vote with all Democrats on board. What are the main sticking points for Republicans?Republicans have groused about the size of the stimulus package and some of the specific measures, like the size of stimulus checks for certain groups. Republicans want much smaller checks, if any at all. There have also been criticisms of funding to public transportation authorities hurting because of the pandemic.What are the main sticking points for Democrats?The most notable disagreement, however, is among Democrats and whether to include the permanent change to the minimum wage, assuming the Senate parliamentarian allows the wage hike into the bill under budget rules.All Democrats in the Senate must sign on to the bill for it to pass, however. And the big question now is whether the wage will be included in the Senate version of the bill after Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat, said he would oppose the wage hike. If the minimum wage is stripped, the question then becomes whether House Democrats, like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, can support something that doesn't deliver on one of their major goals. Read more on that here.Do Republicans support raising the minimum wage?Republican Sens. Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton have suggested a $10 federal wage, but Democrats say that's too small and they also want to make the wage increase automatically with the cost of living. What happens next?This drama will unfold over the next two weeks as Democrats work to find a way to pass the bill before March 14.
Ocasio-Cortez told CNN that she would still support the Covid relief package, even if the minimum wage is removed, but the circumstances matter."I think it depends on the reason for its lack of inclusion," Ocasio-Cortez told CNN. "If $15 is not in the package due to parliamentary reasons, that's one consideration and I would be open to voting for the package," making the case that if the Senate parliamentarian decides to strip the $15 minimum wage from the Covid package, that decision is "largely a procedural, rules-based matter."