Miami Herald (Sunday)

Biden urges fast Senate approval of latest stimulus

- BY JOSH WINGROVE Bloomberg News


President Joe Biden called on lawmakers to quickly approve his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package, which passed the

House of Representa­tives early Saturday and heads to the Senate.

“It’s time to act,” Biden said in brief remarks Saturday at the White House, adding that an “overwhelmi­ng” percentage of the Americans support the legislatio­n.

“We have no time to waste,” Biden said. “If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus, we can finally get our economy moving again.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a two-part tweet that the stimulus bill “ensures that people make it to the other side of this pandemic and are met there by a strong, growing economy.”

Biden said he’d called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moments earlier to praise “her extraordin­ary leadership” after the measure narrowly passed the House Saturday morning.

The House voted 219-212 to pass the bill, a sharp break from previous aid packages that had drawn wide bipartisan support. No Republican in the House voted for it, and no Republican senators are expected to either. Two House Democrats also voted against it. To pass the Senate, Biden needs to either woo Republican support or avoid losing a single Democratic vote.

Democrats have all but abandoned efforts to pass a bipartisan package, accusing Republican­s of balking at the price tag while Republican­s say Biden’s bill goes well beyond pandemicre­lated measures.

GOP Rep. Devin Nunes on Saturday called Biden’s stimulus plan a “slush fund” for Democrats to use over the next four years.

“They’re going to be able to get the 50 votes, they’re going to buy the votes,” the California lawmaker said at the Conservati­ve Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida.

On Thursday, Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, said Democrats “are exploiting a crisis to make us pay for their pet projects.”

Pelosi brushed off those sentiments, describing the plan in a letter to colleagues as “coronaviru­s-centric.”

To Biden’s point about popular support, a Quinnipiac University poll taken Jan. 28-Feb. 1 showed nearly seven in 10 Americans supported the stimulus plan against 24% who opposed it. Most Democrats, 68% of independen­ts and 47% of Republican­s approved.

The legislatio­n would provide $1,400 direct payments to taxpayers making as much as $75,000 individual­ly or $150,000 per couple. It also includes new funding for vaccinatio­ns and testing.

The president has said he believes the risk facing the U.S. is not that they overdo it, but that they don’t do enough and become trapped in a cycle of sluggish growth coming out of the coronaviru­s crisis, similar to the outcome of the 2008-09 recession. Several business groups have called on Congress to approve Biden’s package or a version of it.

Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, said recently that a robust recovery plan could make the difference between the U.S. returning to full employment next year, or struggling until 2025 for a labor-market recovery.

A nonpartisa­n official said Thursday the package can’t move forward with its provision to phase in a $15 an hour minimum wage. That ruling sent Democrats looking for ways to work around Senate rules governing the fast-track budget process they’re using to pass the stimulus plan without Republican votes.

Biden on Saturday didn’t


Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas

address the minimum wage issue or an initiative in the Senate to place a tax penalty on big companies as a way of forcing them to pay higher wages. Pelosi in her letter said “the House will continue our Fight for 15.”

“We will seek a solution consistent with the Senate rules, and we will do so as soon as possible,” Pelosi said. “Updates will be ongoing.”

Two Senate committee chairs, Ron Wyden and Bernie Sanders, pitched the idea of a tax penalty Thursday night. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said the administra­tion didn’t yet have a position on the proposals.

A target deadline looms for Biden: Millions of people are set to lose supplement­al unemployme­nt benefits on March 14, when a previous round of virus stimulus expires.

 ?? SAMUEL CORUM Getty Images ?? President Joe Biden told the nation ‘We have no time to waste’ as he implored the Senate to approve the $1.9 trillion coronaviru­s relief package passed by the House early Saturday
SAMUEL CORUM Getty Images President Joe Biden told the nation ‘We have no time to waste’ as he implored the Senate to approve the $1.9 trillion coronaviru­s relief package passed by the House early Saturday

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