Biden and Dole, the former Republican Senate chairman who recently announced he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, have been friends over the many years the two men served together in the Senate. Biden often speaks with nostalgia about his working relationships with GOP leaders during this less polarizing era when negotiation was the rule rather than the exception. But when it comes to the pandemic, at least, he is leaning on the limited political capital he has in a tightly divided Congress while passing his case for the package directly to the American people in an attempt to overcome the Republican opposition. On that first look at Biden’s sales leadership as president, he wasn’t shy of calling Republicans who, despite his popularity, are cautious about supporting his American bailout plan and asking them to come up with their ideas on possible compromises. On Friday, at a Pfizer Michigan vaccine-making facility, he made passionate case for the bill while pushing back Republican critics who said it was too big and too expensive.
“Let me ask you: what would you let me cut? What would you leave me out?” Asked Biden. “Shouldn’t we be investing $ 20 billion to vaccinate the nation? Shouldn’t we be investing $ 290 billion to extend unemployment insurance for the 11 million Americans who are unemployed so they can get along while they go back to work? Shouldn’t we be investing $ 50 billion. ” To help small businesses stay open when tens of thousands have had to close permanently? … Shouldn’t we be investing $ 130 billion to help schools across the country open safely? ”
In its current form, the House Bill, released Friday, which accurately mirrors Biden’s proposal, provides for direct payments of up to $ 1,400 per person for Americans earning up to $ 75,000 annually while major pandemic unemployment programs are extended through August and food increases by 15% postage stamp benefits through September. Legislation also includes assistance to homeowners and homeowners at risk of homelessness, as well as substantial tax credits for families and low-income workers.
With many parents focused on getting their kids back into in-person classes, Biden and his staff have highlighted the nearly $ 130 billion the plan would allocate to K-12 schools to help them pay of security changes the administration hopes to reopen more schools.
One of the most controversial provisions is the gradual increase in the federal minimum wage from $ 7.25 an hour to $ 15 an hour by 2025. Moderate Democratic senses. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have already signaled their opposition to this provision – and there If the Senate is split between 50 and 50, Biden cannot afford to lose a single member in his caucus. The Senate MP must also consider whether the increase in the minimum wage would have a direct impact on the federal budget for it to be seen as part of the process known as reconciliation This could allow Democrats to pass the legislation on a party line. Biden has acknowledged that he believes the minimum wage increase as part of the package is unlikely to survive. But Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent Democratic representative who also chairs the Senate Budget Committee, has been strong in favor of the provision as a change the nation “badly needs”. During an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday night, he noted that the increase would be gradual and that the federal government would be granting tax credits to small businesses to help cushion the impact.
“If you were to ask me what the biggest economic crisis in this country is today – it’s not just unemployment. It’s the fact that half of our workers live from paycheck to paycheck and millions of people work for starvation wages.” Sanders told speed cameras. “You can’t survive on $ 8 or $ 9 an hour in any state in this country. You certainly can’t raise your children on those wages.”
Sanders said in an interview with CNN on Saturday that he was confident that the Senate MP would ultimately endorse the argument that he and other progressives have put forward that “raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour will not have a” side effect ” The federal budget is and is permissible according to the rules of reconciliation. ”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat who chairs the Progressive Congress, told reporters last week that the current economic conditions and the composition of the Senate created “our best opportunity” and “the right moment” to meet her to achieve long-cherished goal Increase the minimum wage to USD 15 per hour.
In a preview of the arguments Republicans will make this week, House GOP leaders have already begun to urge their members to vote against the bill, calling it the “Payoff to Progressives Act”. In an email to Members that CNN received on Friday, House Minority Whip’s office argued Steve Scalise, House No. 2 Republican, that the Democrats had knocked the legislation down – and said it would ” blue states save “while” people pay not to work. “
Scalise’s office characterized the bill as the embodiment of a “liberal wish list”.
Biden seeks to overcome these Republican objections by continuing to appeal directly to the American people this week. And next week’s Republican objections come at risk, given the popularity of the legislation.
A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month found that nearly 7 in 10 Americans supported the $ 1.9 trillion package and only 24% were against it. Support was overwhelming among Democrats, but also substantial among independents (who said they approved the bill by 68% to 25%). Republicans were 47% to 37% against the package in the poll.
When speaking in Michigan on Friday, Biden said he was open to ideas on how to “improve the package and make it cheaper”.
“I hope Republicans in Congress will listen to their voters,” he said. Americans, he added, “want us to act and act big and swift and support the plan.”