CFCC Political Science professor talks COVID-19 relief bill process

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Many Americans are one step closer to receiving stimulus checks, as the senate debates a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Less than a week after President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief bill was passed by the House, the Senate has agreed to debate it after making some changes. All Republicans voted against moving forward with the bill, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.

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Cape Fear Community College political science professor Nelson Beaulieu says a provision in the bill raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour was denied.

“Parliamentarian ruled that they couldn’t put that into a budget reconciliation bill,” Beaulieu said.

The Senate also lowered the threshold for those who will receive $1,400 stimulus checks.

Under the house version of the bill it was limited to those making less than $100,000 per year, under the senate version it caps at $75,000 per year.

In addition to the changes, Republicans are pushing to read aloud all 628 pages of the bill on the Senate floor.

“What the minority party tries to do is force votes on every single amendment, which is time consuming,” Beaulieu said.

Beaulieu says after the debate process is finished, assuming all senators vote along party lines, Vice President Kamala Harris will then cast the tie-breaking vote.

“And so after the senate passes it, it will go back to the House, and they will look at it and hopefully pass it pretty quick,” Beaulieu said.

The 20-hour debate process is likely to stretch into the weekend. Assuming the House passes the revised bill, it will then go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.