A THIRD stimulus check with $1,400 payments may only be passed if the proposal for a $15 minimum wage is dropped.
President Joe Biden's relief bill would provide Americans with direct payments to deal with the financial hardship brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill includes a provision that over five years would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour.
Winning the increase in pay would be important for progressives now that Democrats control both Congress and the White House.
However, Republicans have criticized the bill, saying it is too costly and it does too little to reopen schools or businesses hit by the pandemic.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, said: “I haven’t seen a Republican yet that’s found something in there that they agree with.
“I think all Republicans believe in three simple things: They want a bill that puts us back to work, back to school and back to health. This bill is too costly, too corrupt and too liberal.”
Republicans also oppose a minimum wage increase, meaning there is a risk the bill could be included in a filibuster-proof bill like the Covid-19 relief measure.
But to end a filibuster – a parliamentary procedure used in the US Senate to prevent a measure from being brought to a vote – Democrats would need 60 votes, which does not seem likely in a 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris allowed to cast only tie-breaking votes.
Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian, is now involved because Democrats are pushing the $1.9 trillion measure through Congress under special rules which will let them avoid a Senate filibuster by Republicans.
If the parliamentarian decides the minimum wage increase proposal can remain in the bill, it will be a boost for Democrats.
However, there is no guarantee the provision will survive as some moderates oppose it or want it dialed back.
Another alternative would be for Democrats to bust through decades of Senate precedent, ignore the parliamentarian’s view and keep the wage provision in the bill with their 51 votes – but it is not clear if they would have enough support to do that.
The stimulus package was rolled out on Friday and sent to the House, which is included in a larger legislation.
The spending package includes an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, $1,400 direct checks for Americans making $75,000 or less a year and an extension of $400 federal unemployment benefits.
Americans could get their $1,400 stimulus checks within weeks as the House is set to vote on the relief bill on Friday.
In a Tuesday night tweet, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote: "The House will vote on Friday on @POTUS’ #AmericanRescuePlan to end this pandemic and deliver urgently needed relief to America’s families and small businesses.
"The American people strongly support this bill, and we are moving swiftly to see it enacted into law."
The move comes after The House Budget Committee approved Biden's bill on Monday afternoon with a vote of 19-16.
Democrats are pushing to pass the bill quickly to prevent a lull in federal unemployment payments as The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (PEUC) expires on March 14, 2021.
The coronavirus relief bill was designed to put money towards Covid vaccines, medical equipment, and stimulate the US economy.
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