- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 27, 2021

President Biden on Saturday called on the U.S. Senate to quickly pass his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package after the Democratic-led House passed its version in the middle of the night.

“Now the bill moves to the United States Senate, where I hope we’ll receive quick action,” Mr. Biden said in brief remarks at the White House. “We have no time to waste.”

Mr. Biden said he called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California to compliment her on getting the package through the House.

“If we act now — decisively, quickly, and boldly — we can finally get ahead of this virus,” the president said. “We can finally get our economy moving again.”

The House voted 219-212 to approve the package, which includes direct payments of up to $1,400 for millions of Americans, $130 billion for K-12 schools, $25 billion for hard-hit restaurants, and expanded unemployment benefits through the end of August.



House Republicans were unified against the plan, saying it was poorly targeted and that only a small percentage of the spending was related to COVID-19.

There was, however, bipartisan opposition to the bill. Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon voted against the legislation.

Mr. Golden said he supports the additional funding for vaccine distribution, testing, and expanded unemployment benefits.

“Unfortunately, the path congressional leaders have chosen goes far beyond these key provisions, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars,” Mr. Golden said. “After supporting $4 trillion in emergency COVID relief in 2020, I won’t support trillions more in funding that is poorly targeted or in many cases not necessary at this moment in time.”

The White House insists the package has bipartisan support because of public polling and expressed backing from state and local Republican leaders.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour will likely have to be stripped out because of Senate rules.

Mr. Biden supports the $15 minimum wage, but had said repeatedly the Senate parliamentarian was likely to disallow it as part of the package.

Proponents of increasing the wage like Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders of Vermont had argued otherwise.

Mr. Sanders and Senate Democrats are now looking at increasing taxes on companies that don’t pay their employees a given wage as an alternative.

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