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House to vote on Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package Friday

The House of Representatives will vote on Friday to approve President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package, a major step toward enacting the first legislative priority of the new administration as the devastating fallout from the spread of Covid-19 has left Americans in dire need of further relief.

The package advanced by House Democrats includes direct aid to small businesses, $1,400 direct checks to Americans making less than $75,000 annually, an increase in the child tax credit, direct funding to state and local governments, funding for schools and more money for vaccine distribution.

It is expected to pass on a party line vote as House Republicans have urged their members to vote against the package and are seeking to limit defections.

Republicans have argued that the legislation overreaches and serves as a liberal wish list of agenda items and complain that they have been locked out of the process for crafting the measure. Democrats counter that they are willing to work with Republicans, but will not water down the plan and say they have a mandate to take sweeping action to address the pandemic now that they control Congress and the White House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a narrow margin to pass the bill, unable to lose more than five votes. But a key factor expected to buoy the bill’s chances is the fact that many members across the ideological spectrum do not have an appetite to torpedo the new administration’s first major piece of legislation.

Progressives have fought to include a minimum wage increase in the legislation, but that effort was dealt a major blow on Thursday when the Senate parliamentarian ruled against including the increase in the Covid relief bill, an aide familiar with the process and two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell CNN.

Pelosi called the decision “disappointing,” adding, “House Democrats believe that the minimum wage hike is necessary. Therefore, this provision will remain in the American Rescue Plan on the Floor tomorrow.”

The parliamentarian ruled that the increase to $15 per hour did not meet a strict set of guidelines needed to move forward in the Senate’s reconciliation process.

As a result, when the House passes their bill with the increase included, the Senate is expected to have to strip the minimum wage provision out and then eventually, the bill would go back to the House and face another vote.

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