Friday, 26 Feb 2021

The House moves to finalize the next coronavirus stimulus package by end of next week.

House Democrats are finalizing the details of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic relief package, and barreling toward a vote on the final legislation at the end of next week.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, told House Democrats during a conference call on Tuesday that he hoped to have the legislation reach the House floor by next Friday, according to two people familiar with the remarks.

“Our challenges are immense, and the House must meet them with bold and resolute action,” Mr. Hoyer wrote on Tuesday in a letter to Democrats, warning that votes on the stimulus plan could go into the weekend.

Committees have been meeting remotely during the House recess to haggle over the details of Mr. Biden’s proposal, with the budget and rules committees expected to be the last two panels to finalize the legislation in the coming days.

In its current form, the stimulus legislation would provide billions of dollars for schools and small businesses, bolster unemployment benefits through the fall, deliver a round of $1,400 direct payments to individuals and provide for a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $15.

Faced with a lapse in unemployment benefits beginning in mid-March, lawmakers hope to have the legislation passed through the House by the end of February, before sending it to the Senate. House Democratic leaders scheduled a series of phone calls this week for committees to brief rank-and-file lawmakers about the details of the emerging legislation.

Democrats aim to pass the plan using a fast track budgetary process, known as reconciliation, which would allow them to push it through the Senate with a simple majority. But it also requires lawmakers to adhere to a series of strict budget parameters, designed to prevent the process from being abused with extraneous provisions, that could derail certain liberal priorities, including the minimum wage increase.

Despite using the same parliamentary maneuvers in 2017, Republicans have argued that Democrats are forcing Mr. Biden to renege on his promises for bipartisan collaboration by cutting them out of the process. During committee work earlier this month, Republicans largely failed to force a series of amendments that would have forced the package to be more targeted in its delegation of relief or imposed requirements on the billions of dollars in funds.

Mr. Hoyer on Tuesday confirmed plans to bring back earmarks, the banned practice of tucking pet projects into sweeping spending bills, rebranding the funding moves as “congressional initiatives.”

In the letter to Democrats, he also said that the House would vote on a package of wilderness legislation and the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. In March, the chamber is expected to take up Democrats’ centerpiece voting rights and anti-corruption legislation, as well as police reform legislation that House Democrats pushed through during the 116th Congress, but failed to get through the Senate.

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