United States: Congress votes on Joe Biden’s stimulus plan



First step for the gigantic plan to support the economy wanted by Joe Biden: its adoption by the House of Representatives this Friday, February 26. As expected, the Democratic majority cast a favorable vote. But the fight should be tougher in the coming days when the Senate in turn will have to decide.

An unprecedented revival project

Joe Biden thinks big: having in mind the insufficient effort made in 2009, when he arrived in Washington as vice-president of Barack Obama in the midst of the financial crisis, the new head of state wants to strike hard.

→ ANALYSIS. United States: the recovery plan, the first big test for Joe Biden

Its stimulus plan therefore amounts to $ 1.9 trillion, a record. Too much for the Republicans who, Donald Trump having left the White House, worry again about the public deficit and the debt of the United States. But in the House of Representatives, the Democrats do not need them: in the majority, they should approve this Friday ” the American rescue plan ”, the first major initiative of the new head of state.

It will then be up to the other chamber of Congress, the Senate, to vote, probably next week. The game will be much tighter: with 50 seats out of 100, Democrats cannot lose anyone on the way to allow Vice President Kamala Harris to rule in their favor, as the US Constitution demands.

Business support

Realizing the stakes and the dangers, the business world has stepped into the arena in recent days. The private sector took the floor in two stages. Tuesday, February 23, “Business Roundtable”, which brings together the largest companies in the United States, published a favorable letter to “The rapid promulgation of an additional rescue plan”, by focusing access on the health sector and on Americans and SMEs facing emergency situations.

The next day, more than 170 American flagship bosses took up the pen to defend even more explicitly the plan presented by the Biden administration. In a letter to Democratic and Republican congressional officials Wednesday, they called for the passage of a law “Immediate and large-scale to deal with the health and economic crises triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Among the signatories are the CEOs of the big names on Wall Street (Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, etc.) but also from industry (United Airlines, Patagonia, etc.) or new technologies (Google, Intel, etc.). The list also includes former supporters of Donald Trump, including Steve Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone investment fund.

Minimum wage hike sidelined

Whatever the outcome of the debates in the Senate, Joe Biden and his more progressive allies in the Democratic Party seem to have already lost part: the hike in the federal minimum wage, which Joe Biden intends to increase from 7.5 to 15 dollars, does not should not be included in the final text.

So decided Elizabeth MacDonough, parliamentary expert and guardian of the very complex procedures of the upper house. According to her, the means used by the Democrats to be able to adopt the stimulus plan in the Senate thanks to the simple majority, and not to the 60 votes usually necessary in this chamber, does not make it possible to include the increase in the minimum wage in the project.

For now, the White House seems to have accepted its defeat. This would mean that the issue of the minimum wage should be the subject of a separate law. But some Democratic senators are pleading for a new offensive in front of Elizabeth MacDonough’s office. Tensions that could divide the fragile Democratic majority in the Senate.

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