Democrats Aim to Target Stimulus Payment and Shrink Jobless Benefit
Using the once-a-year budget reconciliation, House Democrats are attempting to bypass GOP requests to reduce the $1.9 trillion relief proposal to support unemployment benefits and stimulus checks. The American Rescue Plan proposed by President Joe Biden would help unemployed by extending benefits through August 29, 2021 and increasing the benefit from $300 per week to $400 and stimulate the national economy by granting $1400 checks to citizens meeting eligibility requirements.
“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,” said Richard E. Neal (D), Ways and Means Committee Chairman.
Democrats have not decreased the size of the stimulus check, as Republicans requested, but have lowered income thresholds of $75,000-per-individual and $150-per-couple. Lowering the income threshold may allowed Democrats to extend unemployment benefits past the Initial date in August to perhaps beyond September. The Ways and Means Committee is aiming to keep this from happening.
A tool not currently in, but has wide support for adding to the legislation, are automatic stabilizers. This tool is used to induce taxes by providing a stimulus, thus decreasing fluctuation of the GDP, by linking the amount of unemployment benefits to the tax revenues. Adding automatic stabilizers to the plan Is widely supported.
This first drafts of the American Rescue Plan introduced to the Ways and Means Committee is under review. After sections of the Plan are amended by appropriate House Committees, they will progress to the Budget Committee and considered on the floor. The success of the bill is dependent upon whether it can obtain at least 51 votes in the Senate.
This can be accomplished without GOP support via a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamal Harris, given it has full support of the Democratic Senate. However, more central-leaning Democrats, such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), are leaning toward more targeted stimulus payments then those proposed in the initial Biden proposal.
Despite the lack of Republican support in the Senate, a surprising 53% of Republicans in a National Research poll conducted between 11 and 15 February support passing Biden’s emergency legislative package. The poll also shows that 73% of Americans, including Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, support Biden’s plan.
The final vote on this legislation, showing true conservative values, will be interesting.