The House of Representatives early Saturday passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, a plan that includes $1,400 stimulus checks and a minimum wage measure that has little chance of being approved by the Senate.
Biden’s plan passed on a near party-line vote of 219-212. No Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Kurt Schrader of Oregon also crossed party lines to vote against the measure.
“I am a happy camper tonight,” said Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. “This is what America needs. Republicans, you ought to be a part of this. But if you’re not, we’re going without you.”
Republicans have called the bill - the sixth relief package in less than a year - too expensive.
“To my colleagues who say this bill is bold, I say it’s bloated,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
The COVID-19 relief bill will now move to the Senate for a vote, with hopes of sending it to Biden for his signature before March 14, when enhanced unemployment benefits are set to expire.
The inclusion of a provision to phase in a $15 an hour minimum wage faces significant hurdles. Earlier this week, the Senate’s nonpartisan parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, said Senate rules require that a federal minimum wage increase would have to be dropped from the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is considering adding a provision to the Senate version of the relief bill that would penalize large companies that don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour, the Associated Press reported, citing a senior Democratic aide.