The Senate will now take up President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill after it narrowly passed the Democratic-led House of Representatives overnight without any Republican support.
“This is not about dollars and cents, this is about lives that are at stake,” said Rep. Richard Neal, who represents Massachusetts 1st District.
The bill will provide $1,400 in direct payments to many Americans, extend unemployment benefits through August and provide billions of dollars for schools to get kids back in the classroom. There’s also funding to help ramp up vaccinations.
“The American Rescue Plan is going to get shots into arms as we scale up supply and distribution, and it’s going to go kids back into school,” said Rep. Jake Auchincloss, who represents the Massachusetts 4th District.
While there is a lot in the bill, the minimum wage hike that Democrats had been pushing for will not be in the Senate version.
Asked if the House would bring back up the minimum wage bill, Rep. Auchincloss said they are not backing down in the fight.
“Fifteen dollars an hour is what everybody deserves so they can have a dignified living,” he said.
The bill passed the House by just seven votes without a single Republican. Two Democrats voted against it, as well — and one of them is from New England.
Maine Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat, released a statement that said, “After supporting $4 trillion in emergency COVID relief in 2020, I won’t support trillions more in funding that is poorly targeted or in many cases not necessary at this moment in time.”
On Saturday, President Biden said he is confident the bill will pass the Senate.
“We have no time to waste,” Biden said. “If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus, we can finally get our economy moving again.”
If the bill passes the Senate, it would be the sixth round of federal aid during the pandemic.