House action today backing nearly $2 trillion in coronavirus spending expected to boost Biden’s 100-day agenda.

By Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver 

House Democrats today are expected to pass legislation that would spend nearly $2 trillion to tackle the coronavirus crisis with direct payments to Americans and money for schools to reopen, small business loans and extended unemployment benefits for some of the 10 million people who are struggling without paychecks.

Passage will give President Biden’s 100-day agenda a significant, but short-lived boost as the narrowly divided Senate next week will start to wrestle with the mammoth measure.

Most if not all House Republicans are expected to oppose the Democrats’ bill today.

The White House has approached Biden’s ambition to enact a stimulus sized to the national emergency as a public relations and lobbying challenge, fast-tracked with a budgetary tool that clears a path for Senate passage with 50 votes, plus support from Vice President Harris. Bloomberg News describes the administration’s focus on building public support for the relief bill in 13 targeted states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Georgia and Arizona.

Biden, through a spokeswoman, said he was “disappointed” that the Senate parliamentarian on Thursday ruled that a proposed increase in the current federal minimum wage cannot be included in the budget reconciliation relief bill expected to be sent across the Capitol from the House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House bill will include a higher minimum wage, which means any Senate-passed version with modifications must come back to the lower chamber for another vote.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined Biden in saying his party will continue working to raise the federal wage floor.

“We are deeply disappointed in this decision,” he said in a statement. “We are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help millions of struggling American workers and their families. The American people deserve it, and we are committed to making it a reality.”

Schumer has long pushed to boost the minimum wage, but had the parliamentarian ruled the other way, he would have been challenged to strike a compromise on the issue between progressives such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and centrists such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Sanders said he “strongly disagreed” with the parliamentarian’s verdict but said “the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour continues.”

The Hill and The Wall Street Journal: Senate parliamentarian rules against inclusion of the minimum wage.

The Associated Press: House to vote on virus bill; arbiter says wage hike a no-go.

The New York Times: A sizable number of voters who support former President Trump back Biden’s stimulus plan, according to polling.

Biden and House Democrats want the government to move the minimum wage gradually from the current $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. Some Democratic lawmakers believe Republicans are willing to compromise.

“I have heard literally every member of the Democratic caucus say that we need to raise the minimum wage, myself included,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told NBC News, “so that suggests a path.” He also wants an increase indexed to inflation.

Many larger companies back the idea of raising the minimum wage or have gone that route already. Lawmakers, however, lament the impact on smaller employers, especially in low-cost-of-living and rural regions.

Costco announced it will raise its minimum wage next week for hourly workers in the United States to $16 an hour, chief executive Craig Jelinek said Thursday during a Senate Budget Committee hearing about worker pay at large companies. Costco has close to 180,000 U.S. employees and 90 percent of them earn hourly compensation (CNN).

%d bloggers like this: