Stimulus: Democrats push for $1.9 trillion bill to pass by the end of month
Democrats hope that President Joe Biden's $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package will come through the house by the end of the month and be signed by the president by March 14 to prevent a cliff in unemployment benefits.
"We hope that all of this will be done by the end of February," said House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at a press conference on Thursday. "Certainly at the president's desk in time to clear the March 14 deadline when some unemployment benefits expire."
This spring, up to 11.4 million workers will lose their basic unemployment benefits, while for all unemployed Americans, the $ 300 extra weekly benefit could disappear if a stimulus agreement is not passed, which could expire three unemployment programs, an analysis by Die Century Foundation found.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 11, 2021. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP via Getty Images)
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC), which offers additional weekly benefits of $ 300, expires on March 14th.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) offers contractors and self-employed benefits - and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which offers additional benefits for 24 weeks, also at this time. However, employees can use the remaining PUA and PEUC weeks until April 11th.
Read more: Here's what's in Joe Biden's $ 1.9 trillion rescue plan that could help your wallet
Democrats are trying to pass the $ 1.9 stimulus plan through reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes in the Senate. That means the support of the entire Democratic caucus in the Senate, along with Vice President Kamala Harris' tied vote, would be enough to get them passed. It remains unclear whether the bill will be supported by more centrist Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).
"The most important thing is that it gets passed by March 14th," Andrew Stettner, unemployment insurance expert and senior fellow at the Century Foundation, told Yahoo Money. "I'm really going to look for them to pass two weeks beforehand to avoid any kind of loophole."
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) or $ 300 Additional Weekly Unemployment Benefit will expire on March 14th. In addition, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits to contractors and the self-employed, and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) expire on April 11. Graphic: Yahoo Finance / David Foster
"It will be a political question"
After the House Committees finalize the marking this week, the legislation will be sent to the Budgets Committee next week and then to the Regulatory Committee before a House vote, Pelosi said.
While the timeframe seems possible, the barrier to getting enough votes in the House and Senate is the obstacle, according to Mark Harkins, a former Congressional officer and senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute in Georgetown.
"Absolutely procedurally possible," he told Yahoo Money. "It becomes a political issue whether the final product of the House Budgets Committee can get a majority of the votes on the floor of the House."
Biden's $ 1.9 trillion legislation includes stimulus payments of $ 1,400, expanding major unemployment programs due to expire in the spring, aid to small businesses, $ 350 billion to state and local governments as well an increase in tax credits for low- and middle-income families and $ 160 billion for a national program of vaccinations and testing. It also calls for the minimum wage to be increased to $ 15 an hour.
Some provisions from Biden's original plan, such as stimulus tests and unemployment benefits, are being changed by the House Democrats so that some high-income earners cannot receive direct payment and can shorten unemployment benefits.
It is unclear whether all of these provisions could go through a reconciliation as they must have a budgetary impact on the federal government in order to qualify for the process. Pelosi said Thursday the $ 15 minimum wage would be included in legislation, despite being requested not to affect the federal government's overall spending or income.
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Denitsa is a writer for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova.
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