The Race to Pass the COVID Stimulus Bill Continues in the Senate

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Currents News Staff

Millions of Americans rely on unemployment benefits to pay for food and rent.

“I am a real person who had a real job,” said unemployed mother Veronica Bedico. “And now I need help, so that I can provide for my children.” 

That money will start running out in less than two weeks if Congress doesn’t act fast. Now the pressure is on the senate to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan.

“We go big on unemployment benefits,” said Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, “on opening schools and putting shots in people’s arms and money in people’s pockets.”

But there are bumps in the road.

The senate parliamentarian ruled the proposal in the House measure to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour must be removed in the senate version.

Progressives are pushing back.

“It is essential that we deliver on this promise,” said Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Senate Democrats are pressing forward without the minimum wage increase and without Republican support.

“Frankly, we’re moving ahead with a bill that probably will get no Republican votes in the senate,” said Delaware Sen. Chris Coons. 

“Republicans have not been involved,” said Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy. “I listened to Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaking about how we have been listened to. I started laughing. That is such a joke. They made a conscious decision not to include us.”

Republicans say the bill is too big and not focused on COVID relief. 

“Do we need to pay for bridges?” asks Florida Sen. Rick Scott. “Does that have anything to do with COVID? Do we need to pay for tunnels for Silicon Valley?”

Democrats must be fully united if they want to pass this package by the end of the week and get a bill on the president’s desk, before pandemic benefits expire.