Representative Jackie Walorski joined all House Republicans and two Democrats in voting against the latest round of pandemic-related economic stimulus. The bill passed the House of Representatives in a 219-212 vote.
The House bill provides $1.9 trillion in aid to help struggling American families, frontline workers, state and local governments, small businesses, and the nation’s schools and public health systems. In addition, the bill aims to help stabilize the economy, beat back the pandemic, and set the stage for a recovery.
So what things are in the bill?
The direct payments are worth up to $1,400 per person. Families must earn less than $200,000 and individuals must earn less than $100,000 a year. A phase-out begins for individuals earning $75,000 and couples earning $150,000 per year based on tax returns from 2019 or 2020. In addition to the December round of stimulus checks, the payments to qualified individuals top out at $2,000.
Child Tax Credit Boost
In addition, provides most families with a larger child tax credit. For families with children under six, the tax credit is $3,600 per child. For children older than six and younger than eighteen, the credit is $3,000 per child. That’s up from the current child tax credit of $2,000 per child.
Unemployment benefits are set to expire in mid-March. The bill from House Democrats extends unemployment benefits through August 29 and provides a weekly bonus of $400. Freelancers can also remain in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program under the bill.
Recipients of food stamps see a 15 percent benefit increase under the House bill. The food stamps benefit increase would extend through September 2021 instead of expiring at the end of June.
The House bill includes a provision that would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and has remained unchanged for over a decade.
However, the minimum wage increase’s future is unclear in the Senate where there is uniform Republican opposition and reluctance from conservative Democrats. With no Republican support, Senate Democrats would need to vote unanimously as a caucus along with Vice President Kamala Harris.
Walorski says stimulus not “targeted” enough
In a statement, Walorski complained that “this is not the unity President Biden once called for, and it’s certainly not the targeted COVID relief our country needs.”
“As safe and effective vaccines get us closer to ending this pandemic, we should be focused on defeating coronavirus, getting Americans back to work, and helping small businesses recover,” she added.
The House bill now moves on to the Senate where changes are expected. Democrats must contend with a non-binding ruling from the Senate parliamentarian that the minimum wage increase cannot be included using the budget reconciliation process, which only requires 50 votes plus the vice president.
However, there is precedent for overruling the parliamentarian or even replacing them. In 2001, former Senate majority leader Trent Lott, a Republican, fired the parliamentarian for ruling against the GOP. Democrats could attempt something similar, although there is no indication yet that it is under consideration.