WASHINGTON — In the early morning hours Saturday, House Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion virus relief bill, setting the stage for a battle in the Senate over President Biden’s vision for battling a brutal pandemic and helping to stimulate the economy.
The final vote tally was 219-212. Two Democrats broke ranks and voted against the stimulus bill: Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Jared Golden of Maine. The bill did not pass with bipartisan support as no Republicans voted for it.
The bill will go to the Senate next where it already faces an uphill battle among Senate Republicans.
Making the effort even more complicated than before, Senate Republicans are expected to strip out a provision in the legislation increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour after the Senate parliamentarian ruled against including it under the procedure known as reconciliation, which Senate Democrats are using to pass the bill with a simple majority vote. The bill would then have to go back to the House for a separate vote before it could go to Biden to be signed into law.
The package advanced by House Democrats also includes direct aid to small businesses $1,400 direct checks to Americans making less than $75,000 annually, an increase in the child tax credit, direct funding to state and local governments, funding for schools and more money for vaccine distribution.
It had been expected to pass on a party-line vote as House Republicans urged their members to vote against the package and worked to limit defections.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference Friday evening ahead of the vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated the House is still expected to pass the minimum wage increase, even if Senate Republicans aren’t willing to do so.
“As a matter of practice, I don’t get involved in the rules of the United States Senate,” Pelosi said, adding, “But as a matter of values, I can just say, we will not rest until we pass the $15 minimum wage… If it doesn’t prevail because of Senate rules we will persist. But we will not stop until we very soon pass the $15 minimum wage.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.
ATR News Chief Digital Editor Thomas Lineweaver in Nashville, TN contributed to this report.