Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, R-Calif.

Lawmakers passed a $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan along party lines over the weekend, bringing President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief package a step closer to reality.

The economic stimulus bill includes direct payments of $1,400 to individual taxpayers who make $75,000 or less per year or less than $150,000 for a couple. It also expands extra unemployment benefits to $400 a week and includes funding for schools, vaccines, and state and local governments.

The bill now goes to the evenly divided Senate, where Democrats hold the tie-breaking vote in Vice President Kamala Harris. Democrats say they want to pass the measure by March 14, when expanded a federal unemployment boost is set to expire. 

What about a minimum wage increase? Progressive lawmakers wanted the bill to include a federally mandated $15 per hour minimum wage, but the Senate parliamentarian told them they could not make such a major policy change as part of the budget reconciliation process.

Using budget reconciliation allows Democrats to pass the bill with a simple majority in the Senate rather than the 60 votes typically needed to break a filibuster.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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