WASHINGTON – House Democrats appeared confident they would pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill in a crucial Wednesday vote likely to be a milestone in Joe Biden’s presidency, one hinging on his ability to lead America out of the coronavirus crisis.
The House expects to hold a morning vote on Biden’s chief piece of legislation, the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks, billions for vaccines, and money to reopen schools.
Its final passage will cap months of negotiations, beginning when Biden introduced his plan in mid-January before he took office. Along the way, the bill faced united opposition from Republicans, misgivings from moderate Democrats and progressives and multiple legislative hurdles.
The legislation is anticipated to pass without and Republican support in the Democratic-majority House, unlike previous COVID relief plans that drew bipartisan support over the past year.
Democrats are likely to stay united around the legislation, despite complaints from progressives about compromises made in the Senate’s version of the legislation. Two Democrats voted against the bill when its first version passed the House two weeks ago, but one of the lawmakers, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., said Monday he would support the bill.
And a progressive Democrat, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., who expressed concerns about voting for the final legislation, said Tuesday she would support it.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday he was “110% confident” they had the votes to pass the legislation, and Pelosi said she was not concerned about losing any more Democrats on the vote.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., told reporters, “I think we only lost two on the first time and I think we at least cut it in half this time,” referring to Schrader.
Republicans in Congress lined up in opposition to the bill, denouncing it as full of provisions not related to COVID-19 and questioning whether another $1.9 trillion package was needed after Congress authorized a $900 billion package in December.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., slammed the bill as full of provisions “not targeted, not temporary, not related to COVID.”
Once the House passes the bill, Biden is expected to sign it shortly after. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday the $1,400 stimulus payments could start going out “this month” after the bill is signed.
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