Congress Passes Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Covid Relief Package


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Bray Tousignant, Staff Writer

On Wednesday March 10th, the House of Representatives passed President Biden’s Covid relief bill.  The package, worth $1.9 billion, is slated to be signed into law by Biden on Friday, and it marks a huge development in the United States government’s response to the pandemic.  Although a key piece that many Democrats in Congress wanted to see included in the legislation, a $15 minimum wage, was not passed, this bill still marked a huge step forward for our country.

The bill did undergo a few minor changes throughout the development process; first, the criteria for receiving a stimulus check will be more exclusive.  Early drafts saw the $1400 checks limited to people making under $100,000 a year and couples making less than $200,000 a year.  The legislation that was passed, however, caps the maximum amount of income to still qualify for a check at $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for couples.  Another late edit pertained to the boost in unemployment benefits that is coming.  It’s not a huge alteration, but enough to mention: the increase is being trimmed down from $400 to $300. Again, nothing Earth-shattering, but a hundred dollar difference can be important.  However, one of the most important revisions, especially for high school students, was the emission of the proposal for a $15 federal minimum wage.

A $15 federal minimum wage is something that many Democrats have been wanting for a while now, and many thought that this relief package could be the time to pull it off.  Unfortunately for them, under the Senate reconciliation process (which is the current state of the Senate), a hike in the minimum wage like the one the Democrats were trying to pass would be against the rules.  As such, Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled against the provision.  This may have been a blessing in disguise for Democrats in Congress, though, because the removal of the minimum wage increase likely made the bill easier to pass in the Senate.  There were a few Democratic senators who likely would have voted against the bill had the rise been included, but since it wasn’t, they voted in favor of the bill and it received enough votes to pass and be sent on to President Biden.  That being said, raising the minimum wage will likely continue to be a pressing issue among many senators, and I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this debate.

All in all, the passage of this bill is a huge win for Americans.  President Biden called it “a historic, historic victory for the American people” and said he “(looks) forward to signing it later this week.”  Although a minimum wage increase didn’t make the cut, this piece of legislation is significant, as it will put money in the pockets of Americans who need it.  We should be happy enough with that for now.