The House Budget Committee voted Monday to advance a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, setting up the massive legislation for a full floor vote later this week.
The 19-16 committee vote saw one Democrat, Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, join all Republicans in opposing the package, but Doggett’s vote was reportedly a mistake. A spokesperson said he supports the legislation.
What’s in the package: As a reminder, the plan would provide $1,400 direct payments to Americans making less than $75,000 a year; an extension of emergency unemployment benefits; $350 billion in aid to state and local governments; $129 billion for K-12 schools and $40 billion for colleges and universities; $50 billion for small businesses; an increase in the child tax credit and money for vaccine distribution, Covid testing and contact tracing.
The House version also totals just over the $1.9 trillion limit set by the fiscal year 2021 budget rules, so its costs will need to be trimmed by the Rules Committee, which will take up the bill next. The final House version will likely undergo changes in the Senate, which will determine whether an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour will be included, among other things.
Big, fast, not bipartisan: Democrats are speeding ahead to pass President Biden’s rescue plan, but their go-it-alone approach reportedly has some GOP moderates stewing over the lack of bipartisanship. “Republicans, still irked by the lack of progress in the short-lived bipartisan talks, see a President who is hamstrung by both White House staff and Democrats in Congress whom they believe have far less interest in working with the GOP and seem more willing to advance their agenda without regard for the minority party,” CNN’s Manu Raju and Ted Barret report. “Republicans' argument: Biden seems willing to cut a deal but won't do so because of pressure from the people around him.”
White House officials have pushed back on such characterizations, and Biden himself has pressed the case that the country needs to “go big” with a package on the scale he’s proposed. “Now, critics say the plan is too big,” he said Monday. “Let me ask them a rhetorical question: What would you have me cut? What would you leave out?” Biden said he’s open to ideas for making the plan “better and cheaper,” but added, “we have to make clear who we’re helping and who it would hurt.”
Why it matters: Biden and congressional Democrats may be able to pass the package without any Republican votes, but Politico’s Rachael Bade, Garrett Ross and Eli Okun note that they could pay a price down the line: “Biden wants to work with Republicans on future policies such as infrastructure, but some moderate Republicans feel he may have poisoned the well.”