Members of the U.S. Senate are expected to vote during the second week of this month on the $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation just passed by the House.
Analysts predict that a Senate version of the bill will be finalized around or before March 14 when a host of jobless benefits programs are set to expire.
As approved by a 219 to 212 vote in the House, the legislation includes a single stimulus check of $1,400 to individuals, along with the same amount for each dependent.
Those checks will be calibrated downward for individuals making $75,000 or more, stopping at the $100,000 level.
The bill also includes a $400 a week unemployment supplement, which will last until the end of August, and some $350 billion in aid for state, local, and tribal governments.
President Biden is urging lawmakers to move expeditiously on the legislation, remarking to reporters: “We have no time to waste.”
Once the legislation is passed, Biden predicted, “We can finally get our economy moving again.”
Because of a 50-50 party split in the current Senate, it is expected that amendments will be added to the House bill in order to make it more palatable for members of the upper chamber.
Almost certainly a feature in the House legislation calling for a $15 per hour wage hike appears to be in trouble.
Some lawmakers have suggested that that provision could be approved as part of a reconciliation process, an idea Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema has said she opposes.
“The minimum wage provision is not appropriate for the reconciliation process,” Sinema commented to Politico. “It is not a budget item, and it shouldn’t be in there.”
It has been suggested that the wage hike could be achieved through legislation penalizing corporations that fail to pay their employees at least $15 an hour.
That idea, as aired by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, would impose a 5% tax penalty on corporations paying employees below that amount.
By Garry Boulard
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