It was over that weekend that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Biden Administration's proposed stimulus package for the U.S. economy.
It is not yet law. It must first pass the Senate and President Joe Biden has asked that chamber to take quick action on the legislation. This is the third major spending effort by the U.S. government to try to confront the economic problems triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The two other stimulus packages came last year under then President Donald Trump. In March he signed one costing $2.2 trillion. In December, he signed another costing $900 million. President Biden's proposed stimulus plan would cost $1.9 trillion.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have no time to waste. If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again and the people of this country have suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suffering.
AZUZ: On Saturday, the House voted 219 to 212 to move the bill forward. All of the votes to pass it came from Democrats, but two Democrats joined all 210 Republicans in voting against the bill.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Will it help people get back to work? No. Will it help students get back in the classroom immediately? No. Will it help get vaccines to those who want it? The answer is no. It is entirely partisan and has the wrong priorities.
AZUZ: This proposal is likely to see some changes before the Senate votes on it. As it stands now though, it would include direct payments of $1,400 to many Americans, extra assistance for people who've lost their jobs, money for state and local governments and schools, funding to distribute vaccines and more COVID tests.
That's all part of it. So is a controversial part of the legislation that would raise the U.S. Federal minimum wage. Since 2009, it has been set at $7.25 per hour. States and local governments can require a higher minimum wage and many of them do but the Federal one is the lowest wage employers can pay in the United States.
The Biden Administration's proposal would more than double the minimum wage to $15 per hour by the year 2025. But political experts say that's one part of the legislation that's likely to be removed by the Senate. The Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan government agency, estimates that increasing the minimum wage would help 900 million Americans by raising their earnings above the poverty level.
But the CBO also estimates that doing this would come at a cost of 1.4 million jobs. This is why Federal minimum wage proposals are difficult to get passed through Congress. If the Senate does remove that part of the stimulus plan, the bill would then go back to the House for another vote before it can get to President Biden's desk for his signature.
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