House to vote Wednesday on massive coronavirus aid bill

Vote on $1.9 trillion aid package to be first order of business in the morning after delay in incorporating various changes

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., departs from the House floor as debate is underway for the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Jan. 13, 2021. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., departs from the House floor as debate is underway for the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Jan. 13, 2021. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 9, 2021 at 11:41am

The House will vote to clear the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package for President Joe Biden's signature on Wednesday, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer told reporters.

House lawmakers received the paperwork on Tuesday from the Senate after that chamber's marathon "vote-a-rama" that ended Saturday afternoon, resulting in numerous changes that had to be incorporated.

The final version was posted on the Rules Committee's website Tuesday and that panel plans to meet at noon to consider the rule for floor debate, which the House will take up later in the day.

"We don’t know how long that will last and our expectation is that this afternoon, maybe late this afternoon, we would adopt the rule," Hoyer, D-Md., said Tuesday. "We will then tomorrow at 9 a.m. consider the [relief package] and pass that.”

The House is expected to vote along party lines to send the bill to Biden's desk, following similar votes during the last few weeks. Biden says he'll sign it before expanded unemployment insurance benefits run out on March 14.

Republicans argue the bill includes too much deficit spending given an improving economic outlook and the fact vaccine distribution is taking place throughout the country. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell kept his conference united against the bill, saying less than 10 percent of the package was directly related to addressing the pandemic.

The House’s final approval timeline was somewhat slowed down by the time it took the Senate to officially send its version of the package back to the House after approving the measure on a 50-49 vote Saturday.

The final version House lawmakers will vote on Wednesday no longer includes a $15 minimum wage increase. The weekly federal unemployment insurance payment is reduced from $400 to $300. And the number of people who will receive $1,400 tax rebate payments was reduced by lowering the cutoff for individuals from $100,000 to $80,000 and for joint filers from $200,000 to $160,000.

Just before final passage, a lengthy "perfecting amendment" from Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer incorporated further changes, boosting funds for cities and counties and the hard-hit restaurant industry, expanding eligibility for a rural health care provider fund and more.