House Democrats kick off work on an infrastructure package after enacting Biden’s stimulus plan

Pelosi Stimulus
Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

  • House Democrats announced Friday they are starting work on an infrastructure package.
  • Pelosi said she hoped talks would be bipartisan on climate, broadband, and transportation issues.
  • Hammering out a bill may end up requiring a lengthy stretch of negotiations.
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House Democrats said on Friday afternoon they have officially started work on an infrastructure package, kicking off what appears likely to be a lengthy stretch of negotiations on a multitrillion-dollar economic recovery bill.

“Building our transportation system has long been bipartisan,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “It is our hope that spirit will prevail as we address other critical needs in energy and broadband, education and housing, water systems and other priorities.”

She went on: “As we engage in these job-creating initiatives, we must discuss their impact on the federal budget, on creating economic growth and on preserving our planet.”

Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement that Pelosi had instructed him to explore “how we can use the tax code to invest in modernizing and uplifting our communities while creating good jobs that will get Americans back on their feet.”

The statements came only hours after Pelosi, Neal, and other top Democrats from both chambers of Congress took a victory lap at the White House on a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that the president signed into law Thursday. Democrats are attempting to quickly capitalize on the law’s popularity with the public and show that their control of Congress and the White House is producing tangible benefits for ordinary Americans, like the $1,400 direct payments in the stimulus.

Biden campaigned on a $2 trillion infrastructure proposal that would focus on addressing climate change, energy reform, and strengthening the middle class. Some Democrats like moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia have said they could support a $4 trillion infrastructure and jobs bill.

But Democrats are likely to face hurdles as whether to employ budget reconciliation to fast-track parts of it in a party-line vote, and how to pay for it. Some Senate Democrats and the Biden administration favor raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, a step likely to trigger Republican opposition.

Pelosi elaborated on potential elements of an infrastructure package during her weekly press conference on Thursday, calling it one of her “favorite subjects.”

“It’s not just roads and bridges, mass transit and high-speed rail, it’s also about water systems,” she said. “Some of the water systems we have are over 100 years old.”

The Biden administration initially said it would release an infrastructure plan in February. It never did so and hasn’t outlined any specifics. Still, there are early indications of its possible scope.

The White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, told Punchbowl News on Wednesday that the administration views robust spending on infrastructure as a way for the US to bolster its global competitiveness. He also said it could include funding for new fleets of electric-vehicle-powering stations and clean power.

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House Democrats are inching closer to final passage of $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a press conference with other House Democratic leaders about COVID-19 financial relief.

  • The House is on course to vote on Biden’s stimulus plan on early Wednesday.
  • The legislation would provide stimulus checks and $300 federal unemployment benefits.
  • There were no imminent signs of progressive revolt after the Senate changed some parts of the bill.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The House is set to vote on the final version of the $1.9 trillion relief plan early Wednesday and send the bill to President Joe Biden for his signature

The House Rules Committee is taking it up on Tuesday to set the parameters for debate on the floor.

The Democratic relief bill would provide $1,400 stimulus checks for most taxpayers; $300 federal unemployment benefits through August; $350 billion in state and local aid; and funds for vaccine distribution and virus testing among other provisions. It also contains a large boost to the child tax credit.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says Democrats were determined to quickly approve the plan and assailed the GOP for not supporting it.

“The question is not whether we’re going to pass the American Rescue plan – we will,” he said at a press conference. “The question is whether Republicans are going to step up on behalf of their constituents and support this effort to decisively crush the virus.”

Republicans are strongly critical of the legislation, assailing it as a wasteful endeavor that could have been improved with their involvement. The GOP has blasted the large price tag. No House Republican voted for its passage last month, and they are likely to be united in opposition again. No Senate Republican voted for it more recently in that chamber.

“We could have had a bill that was a fraction of the cost of this one, it could have gotten bipartisan approval and support,” Rep. Liz Cheney, chair of the House Republican Conference, told reporters on Tuesday.

Like with many large bills, the legislation being considered by the House looks different from the version that was submitted to the Senate weeks ago. Senate Democrats were advised by the parliamentarian to scrap a $15 minimum wage, a top progressive priority, and some moderate senators successfully pushed Biden to tighten the eligibility for a third wave of stimulus checks.

But there were no immediate signs of a revolt among House progressives. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, criticized the bill over the weekend and reiterated on Tuesday that the Senate had “failed” to put struggling Americans first, but said she would still vote for the final bill.

“While I will continue to pressure my party to live up to its banner as the party of the people I cannot ignore the immediate need for relief,” she said in a statement.

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Biden supports making a temporary $3,000 payment to parents permanent in stimulus bill

Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Biden supports making a temporary boost to a tax credit for parents permanent, a Democratic aide says.
  • The stimulus legislation would provide up to $3,600 per child to households for one year.
  • Senate Democrats are making clear they want to make this permanent, and give families the option of monthly checks.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

President Joe Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday that he supports making the temporary beefed-up child tax credit that is a part of his stimulus plan permanent, a Democratic aide briefed on the call told Insider.

The president delivered public remarks to House Democrats as part of a virtual caucus event and during a private portion of the event, he told Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington that he supports legislation to keep the expanded $3,000-per-child tax credit.

The aide spoke on condition on anonymity to share details of a private call. The Washington Post first reported the development. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s the first time Biden has indicated he would back an enduring extension to the expanded child tax credit, a measure included in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package recently passed by the House. The Senate is expected to start debate on the bill sometime Thursday.

The legislation would dramatically revamp the child tax credit, a major Democratic priority. The one-year provision would provide $3,600 to parents with children ages 5 and under, and distribute $3,000 to those with kids between 6 and 17 years old.

Singles earning $75,000 and under would get a full check, along with couples making up to $150,000. Similar to stimulus checks, the payments start diminishing above those income thresholds.

Households could opt for recurring checks from the federal government instead of an annual lump sum at tax time. The House bill authorized “periodic” payments for the measure to clear procedural hurdles in the Senate.

Researchers at Columbia University project that the measure could cut the child poverty rate in half and lift millions of Black and Latino children out of poverty. That has provided a boost to Democrats pressing to make it a permanent part of the nation’s social safety net.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, chair of the Senate Banking Committee, said on a press call Wednesday he was confident that every Democratic senator would back the push. “I can’t imagine any Democratic senator wants to see the child poverty rate double in this country,” he said.

The Democratic effort will likely spark debate on how to finance a new federal program later this year, and may trigger significant Republican opposition. The one-year expansion is estimated to cost more than $100 billion for one year, per the Joint Committee on Taxation, or above $1 trillion over a decade if it’s permanent.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, assailed it as “an administrative nightmare” in a recent interview with Insider.

It has “nothing to do with the pandemic and it is something that’s almost mechanically impossible to carry out because they want to send checks out,” Grassley said.

Still, some Republicans have supported similar initiatives, notably Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who rolled out a child benefit plan in early February that would also provide monthly checks to parents.

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House Democrats pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, sending it to the Senate as minimum wage fight looms

nancy pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen during a press conference on January 21, 2021.

House Democrats approved President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion emergency spending package in a 219-212 vote early on Saturday morning, sending the legislation to the Senate as lawmakers rushed to head off the expiration of enhanced unemployment insurance in mid-March.

The stimulus plan cleared the chamber with Republicans unified in their resistance. Two Democrats joined the Republicans in voting against the legislation.

The package includes $1,400 stimulus checks for taxpayers, $400 in federal unemployment benefits, aid to state and local governments, and vaccine funds. Democrats say it will form a critical pillar in the nation’s fight against the pandemic and the economic malaise it has caused.

“The sooner we pass the bill and it is signed, the sooner we can make the progress that this legislation is all about – saving the lives and the livelihood of the American people,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Friday.

But Republicans lambasted the proposal, arguing many of its provisions are unrelated to the pandemic. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy of Texas said at a news conference the legislation 

“We already know what is the best stimulus plan out there: It is to fully reopen our economy,” he said. “To do that, we need our economy to go back to work, back to school and back to health.”

Senate Democrats will take up the legislation next week, and they’re rushing to enact it before the expiration of enhanced unemployment insurance in mid-March. But they face difficult decisions that could spark some clashes.

The House bill includes a $15 minimum wage, but the Senate parliamentarian ordered it struck from the plan on Thursday evening. The recommendation meant the provision, a key progressive priority, violates the strict reconciliation guidelines under which Democrats are seeking to pass the bill with 51 votes in the Senate.

Senior Democrats, including Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, are coalescing behind a backup plan along with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Their proposal would levy a tax penalty on large businesses who don’t pay workers at least $15 an hour.

Small businesses would be provided tax credits equivalent of up to 25% of their payrolls if they lifted workers’ wages. Some business groups like the Chamber of Commerce say they oppose the measure.

“Enough political games,” Neal Bradley, chief policy officer at the Chamber of Commerce, tweeted on Friday. “The business community believes a deal can be reached on a fair min wage increase. R and D members saying the same. It is time for Sen. Sanders & others to focus on a reasonable compromise.”

Some progressives in the House urged Democrats to deliver on campaign promises of a wage hike.

“I don’t think we can go back to voters and say, ‘Look, I know Republicans, Democrats, independents support this, we promised it, but because of an unelected parliamentarian who gave us a ruling, we couldn’t do it,'” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters. “Nobody is going to buy that.”

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House Democrats dismiss efforts to scale back eligibility for $1,400 stimulus checks

neal pelosi
  • House Democrats released a draft of stimulus legislation on Monday evening.
  • It kept the stimulus check thresholds put forward in the Biden rescue package, a dismissal of a push from some Democrats to restrict who can get a full check.
  • Democrats in the House are racing to put the Biden stimulus plan for a floor vote by the end of the month.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

House Democrats released a stimulus plan to maintain the income limit for stimulus checks at $75,000 for individual taxpayers and $150,000 for couples, dismissing an attempt from some Senate Democrats to sharply limit who can receive a direct payment.

Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, put forward the proposal. It may still undergo more changes as committees start fashioning the Biden rescue plan into legislation over the next two weeks.

“Our nation is struggling, the virus is still not contained, and the American people are counting on Congress to meet this moment with bold, immediate action,” Neal said in a statement.

The proposal would tighten eligibility for individual taxpayers making more than $75,000 with a quicker phase-out. Joint taxpayers earning $150,000 are eligible for direct payments, and it’s capped for those making $200,000.

But it’s a sign that momentum is gathering behind Democrats pressing to keep the existing income thresholds that President Joe Biden laid out in his $1.9 trillion relief package. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, became the latest Democratic senator to express support for the move in an interview with Insider.

“I think people making $75,000 in Georgia are struggling in many instances,” he said, and added he was committed to pushing for “a robust package.”

The plan includes the $1,400 checks – a key component of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan – to bolster the initial $600 direct payments previously approved by Congress in December.

The news comes after GOP lawmakers and some moderate Democrats pushed for a plan setting the eligibility threshold at $50,000, which could exclude at least 29 million families. For couples, the payments would begin to phase out for couples earning more than $100,000.

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