Dems ready to leap on Biden's $1.9T Covid aid plan as final vote nears

Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And her executive team, who spent the weekend working on the phones with their members, are confident they will get the votes for one of the largest economic relief bills in Congress. They will fight again with a unified GOP opposition, which will brand Biden’s bailout package as a Democratic offer before halfway through next year, when Republicans could recapture the majority by turning over just a handful of seats.

Pelosi shrugged off Republican lack of support for the Covid relief plan. Telling reporters “I’m sorry for them” and painting them as “regardless of the support this bill has among Republicans across the country”.

Key provisions of the legislation have significant public support, and a recent survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs found that 44% of Republicans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus. His plan envisions a massive expansion of the social safety net to support the worst paid and most vulnerable people in the country who have faced the brunt of the pandemic. It also includes $ 1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans – the direct result of the Democrats’ two shocking victories in the Georgia Senate runoff earlier this year.

The bill is also a gamble for the future of the party. Democrats are well on their way to approving nearly $ 2 trillion without a single Republican vote, giving their opponents a fat target for pre-election criticism when historical headwinds work against them. Congress passed four key coronavirus aid packages before Biden took office, including one just weeks after the November election. However, the GOP rejected this package as being too much money as the US may soon be able to weather the pandemic.

No Republicans in the House voted for the Democratic package when it first got to the House late last month. After a violent whipping operation by the GOP leaders, they are not expected to be supported this time either.

The bill requires a final vote in the House of Representatives after a weekend marathon Senate session where the Democrats approved a handful of changes to win the centrists over. Pelosi said on the floor on Monday afternoon that the vote would take place within the next “24 to 48 hours”.

House Democrats are expected to narrowly approve the Senate bill that removed an increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour – a long-standing priority for progressives – after violating the House’s budget rules.

The Liberal Democrats were angry about this and other cuts made by the Senate, including the decision to reduce the law’s weekly increased unemployment benefit to meet a demand made by Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.). The bill now provides additional benefits of $ 300 per week through September 6, compared to $ 400 per week on the home plan. The Senate bill also provides tax breaks of $ 10,200 for the unemployed.

Aside from frustrations, no Liberal Democrats have announced that they will vote against Biden’s first legislative priority.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Chairwoman of the Progressive Congressional Caucus, said she took calls from affected members over the weekend but made it clear to her caucus that the bill remains “a great progressive win”.

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