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This Week in Congress

Last week, the House voted 219-212 and passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.  This is the sixth COVID-19 relief package that has been passed by the House and on Wednesday, the Senate began their debate on this House passed package with the hope to pass the legislation later this week.  The House is expected to consider the Senate’s revised bill early next week.

Currently, the Senate is drafting a package of amendments and working out disagreements over the size and duration of expanded unemployment benefits, which currently stand at $400 per week until the end of August.  Sen. Manchin (D-WV) has pushed to lower the benefit to $300, but most Democrats appeared to favor holding the line at $400.  Also, senators are discussing whether tax rebate checks should be targeted more narrowly to lower-income households and looking at the formula for distributing state and local aid.

Two infrastructure provisions in the House-passed package that drew criticism from Republicans will be stripped from the Senate version of the bill: the $100 million for a Silicon Valley transit project for a light rail and subway line to downtown Santa Clara and San Jose, and the $1.5 million appropriation to replace toll revenue losses for a bridge that carries substantial border traffic between upstate New York and Canada.  Republicans cited those projects in recent days as examples of wasteful spending that have little to do with pandemic relief.