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Covid Relief, Gamestop Hearing and Ted Cruz’s Travel

Neither the House nor Senate were in formal session this past week, but both return next week. The top priority for the House will be to pass the President’s $1.9T Covid Relief Bill. The basic outline of the legislation has not changed since originally proposed by the Biden Administration with the centerpiece being $1,400 relief checks. Other major provisions include: $350B in money for state and local governments, extension of emergency unemployment past the March 14 deadline until August 29, adding $100 a week to supplemental unemployment benefits to bring the total to $400 a week, and a variety of programs ranging from housing and food assistance to school openings and vaccine distribution. The House is likely to include the $15.00 an hour minimum wage increase though its chances in the Senate are doubtful.

The formal introduction of the bill should take place before the House Budget Committee early in the week, with the full House passing the bill by the end of the week staying in DC over the weekend if necessary. The deadline for passage remains March 14 when the unemployment cliff is reached, and federal unemployment programs expire. Assuming the House passes the bill next week the Senate will start consideration of the bill the week of March 1 and hopefully finish action by March 10. The House would then have four days to approve the bill with any amendments that may have been added by the Senate. This will require close coordination between Schumer and Pelosi to make sure that nothing is added in the Senate that would make House passage problematic. Minimum wage could be the main point of contention. President Biden, a seasoned legislator, will play an active role in this process and likely help resolve any differences between House and Senate.

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