It was a battle alongside party lines, but the Democrats in the House of Representatives finally managed to push the Bill through to land on President Biden’s desk. It has proven to be a major victory. The government would now be able to marshal its spending clout against the pandemic and the economic crisis triggered by it that has shaken the whole nation.
A Bill Passed Along Party Lines
The voting in the House of Representatives was as anticipated along party lines with 220 for and 211 against, while with a 50-49 vote also along party lines, the Bill was pushed through in the Senate. The Republican Congressmen in both the Senate and House were unanimous in their opposition to the Bill. They felt it was cramped with policies they deemed liberal. The whole process was haphazard and less rigorous; they felt and failed to heed signs that the economy was recovering on its own.
President Biden tweeted, “Help is here” immediately after the count, and Democrats applauded unanimously. The most noticeable part of the Covid Relief Bill is the direct payment of a maximum of $1,400 along with the extension of the $300 weekly unemployment benefits that will extend through 6th September. But there is much more to the legislation.
Additional measures in the Covid Relief Bill to upend the twin crisis are along the lines promised by President Biden as part of his presidential campaign. The pandemic has confined the vast majority of Americans to their homes, even as the disease affected 29 million people and took the lives of 525,000. It pushed down the economy as it sank to its lowest depth since the Depression.
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, said that they were on the verge of making a decision that would have “tremendous consequence” that would affect the lives of millions of US citizens and would save livelihoods and lives.
The Covid Relief Bill is a representation of President Biden and the Democrats’ core beliefs. The move has tremendous support among the population even as US debts stood at a staggering $22 trillion. This has never bothered either party unless it was the other one that was doing the spending.
Reasons For Republican Opposition To The Covid Relief Bill
Republican congressmen said they had given overwhelming support to 5 past relief bills passed by Congress since COVID-19 stuck. Both parties had negotiated then and arrived at a consensus. This time around, they opposed it because money was being set aside for family planning and workers who took leave during the pandemic. But it failed to address the issue that schools were required to open if they were to receive aid.
The republicans have warned that the passage of the Bill will lead to more serious consequences for the Americans. They argued that the additional federal borrowings to fund the Covid Relief Bill would further harm the economy.
Congressmen like Senator Roger Wicker, Miss., who voted against the bill, were still supportive of some of the measures like the $29 billion earmarked for the sick restaurant industry, admitting that it might help the industry survive the crisis. Democratic leaders contended that it was typical of the Republicans. Pelosi said that “it’s typical that they will vote no and take the dough.”
The Republicans countered that a few positive provisions did not warrant total support of the Covid Relief Bill.
The dominant part of the Bill is its efforts to assist middle and lower-class families. Part of the package is extended tax credits for children over the year and other assistance for family leave and child care. Democrats want to make such support permanent. There are also generous measures for supporting utility bills, feeding programs, plus paying for rentals.
Covid Relief Bill Brings Coverage Across The Spectrum
Over and above the direct mode of payments and assistance extended to the jobless, there are provisions for people and organizations across the spectrum. Tens of billions have been set aside for corona vaccines, their development, and distribution. Schools, local and state governments are set to benefit from the generosity. The travel and tourism industry, airlines, and concert halls are a few included in the exhaustive list. The list also includes colored farmers, student borrowers, the pension system. Customers buying health insurance will get subsidies, and lower earnings groups will get medical insurance coverage.
John Yarmuth, House Budget Committee Chairman, said it is not the time to say that it is about the survival of the fittest. The nation has to rise to the occasion and deliver.
The measures taken by the government would cut by a third the people living beyond the poverty line, which would decrease to 28 from 44 million. This figure was put out by Urban Institute, a liberal-leaning think tank. The institute also claimed that the measures would halve the poverty level of children. They made these claims based on the impact made by the stimulus checks, the food stamps, tax credits, and other jobless benefits being rolled out for children.
Among the Democrats, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine was a dissenting figure. He maintained that every measure wasn’t of equal priority. There were mixed but promising indications of recovery even as the Bill was passed.
Covid Relief Bill Passed Amidst Conflicting Signals
The vaccination drive has been tempered by the discovery of new variants of the virus. People are getting increasingly impatient at the social curbs in place.
On a brighter note, in February alone, 79,000 jobs were created. But they are still 9.54 million less than the number of jobs a year ago before the virus struck.
Popular Support For The Covid Relief Bill
Republicans are wary of the long-term impact of the Covid Relief Bill. But the public support is overwhelming. 70% of the population have supported President Biden’s measures. The support is 44%, even among the Republican voters. These figures were as per a poll conducted by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. According to a poll conducted by CNN, the support for the COVID Relief Bill is 61% among all Americans. 26% of Republicans and 58% of Independents supported it, while an overwhelming majority of Democrats have supported the measures.
The picture will not be clear before November 22, when control of both the Houses could change hands. Only then will the voters confirm their opinion of the measures taken.
The Democrats are tied down in the Senate, with only the vice-president Kamala Harris’ vote making the difference. The lead in the House is a slender 10 votes.
Concession And Compromises Mark The Passage Of The Covid Relief Bill
The increase in the minimum wages to $15 per hour by 2015 was passed by the House of Representatives. But this proposal was negated by the Senate. The Democrats had to go along to gain the support of the moderates within their party. The other proposal by the progressives to keep the emergency jobless benefits to $400 a week was trimmed to $300. The stimulus check was also changed to phase out payout too high earners.