Third stimulus summary: Wednesday 5th March 2021

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US Vice President Harris Participates in House Democratic Issues Conference

Headlines:

Democrats attempt to build support against GOP amendment to cut stimulus bill jobless benefits provision 

- Senate vote sees proposed $15 minimum wage increase rejected, with some Dems voting against

- Covid relief bill was read in full Thursday before the Senate could adjourn at 2.05am after Republicans continues tactics to delay the vote

- Protestors gather in New York to protest against lack of stimulus support for excluded workers

- VP Harris overruled GOP opposition to continue Senate debates

- President Biden approves limiting $1,400 checks to those earning less than $80,000 (full details)

$1.9tn covid-19 relief bill was passed by the House of Representatives last Saturday

- 70% of Americans in favour of The American Rescue Plan (poll)

- Biden says he would support the stimulus bill's child tax credit increase being made permanent

Stimulus check of up to $1,400 approved by House, looks likely to stay in Senate version 

- Stimulus bill could be done and dusted as early as 14 March

- Progressive Dems lose battle to keep minimum-wage hike from being stripped from bill in the Senate

- House approve bill that will extend and increase federal pandemic unemployment benefits (more here)

- Get the latest stimulus check news in Spanish - las noticias sobre los cheques de estímulo en español

- US covid-19 cases/deaths: 28.8 million/520,356 (live updates)

Have a read of some of the latest related news stories:

Eight Democrats who voted against minimum wage proposal

A total of eight Democrats joined all 50 Republicans in voting against a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25  to $15.

Kyrsten Sinema under fire for thumbs-down gesture

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema was widely criticised on social media for her demonstrative way of showing her disapproval to an amendment in President Biden's Covid-19 Relief bill to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Sinema marched to the front of the House and pointedly gave a thumbs-down - a gesture which some criticised for being "callous" and others thought it was uncalled-for and attention-seeking.

The amendment, which required 60 votes to be included, was voted down 42-58 with all Republicans voting against it.

She later issued a statement on her personal Twitter account: "I understand what it is like to face tough choices while working to meet your family's most basic needs. I also know the difference better wages can make, which is why I helped lead Arizona's effort to pass an indexed minimum wage in 2006, and strongly supported the voter-approved state minimum wage increase in 2016. No person who works full time should live in poverty. Senators in both parties have shown support for raising the federal minimum wage and the Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill".

 

"We are facing crises unlike any we have faced in our lifetime"

Bernie Sanders accused Republicans of obstructionism and being more interested in hampering President Joe Biden's Covid-19 Relief Bill than actually helping struggling households and the US economy.

When asked his opinion on Republicans' reservations about the Relief Bill's $1.9 trillion price tag, Sanders argued, "I wonder where their diligence and their concern was when they gave over a trillion dollars in tax breaks to the very rich and large corporations. I wonder where their concern was when they voted and pushed the $740 billion military budget. The American people correctly perceive that we are in an urgent moment. We ought to move as quickly as we can. That's what President Biden wants. Today we are facing a series of crises - health care, pandemic, economic, education, mental illness. We are facing crises unlike any we have faced in our lifetime. The bill that we are fighting for right now, that hopefully will be passed in a few days, in my view, is the most significant piece of legislation for working families that Congress has passed in many, many decades".

Texas could receive $27 billion from $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill

Texas could get as much as $27 billion in funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the Dallas Morning News reports. It would be handed $16.8 billion in funds for the state government and $10.4 billion for local governments, in the their share of the package.

Senate

Democrats advance Biden's $1.9 trillion Relief bill in marathon Senate session

Democrats in the US Senate forged ahead with President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan early on Saturday, turning back Republican attempts to modify the package in a marathon session that had begun the prior day.

With Republicans united in opposition, Democrats who narrowly control the chamber must keep all 50 of their members on board in order to pass the package, as they hope to do this weekend. Progress ground to a halt for more than 11 hours as Democrats negotiated a compromise on unemployment benefits to satisfy centrists, chiefly Senator Joe Manchin, who worried the massive package might overheat the economy. With that issue resolved, the chamber then moved to a series of Republican attempts to modify the bill.

The first attempt, to adjourn for the evening, fell short by a vote of 48 to 50.  Unemployment aid is just one of many friction points in the sweeping bill. An attempt to raise the minimum wage fell short earlier in the day, and Democrats had earlier modified the bill to steer more aid to smaller states and cities. The version passed by the House last Saturday calls for $400 per week in jobless benefits up until 29 August, on top of state benefits, to help Americans who have lost jobs amid the economic trauma caused by the coronavirus. The compromise would lower that weekly benefit to $300, but extend it through 6 September, according to a Democratic aide. The first $10,200 would be tax-free.

The agreement also extends a tax break for businesses for an additional year until 2026. Biden supports the compromise, the White House said. If the Senate passes the bill, the House would have to sign off on those changes before Biden could sign it into law.

Republicans were one vote down after Senator Dan Sullivan left Washington en route home to Alaska for a family funeral. Republicans have broadly supported previous stimulus packages to fight the virus and revive the world's largest economy, which has yet to replace 9.5 million jobs lost since last year. But with Democrats in charge of the White House and both chambers of Congress, they have criticized this bill as too expensive.

Washington received unexpected good news on Friday after data showed that employment surged in February, adding 379,000 jobs, significantly higher than many economists had expected. The US unemployment rate, while still high at 6.2% last month, was down from 6.3% in January.

"We have reached a compromise that enables the economy to rebound quickly while also protecting those receiving unemployment benefits from being hit with unexpected tax bill next year.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, on the unemployment benefits amendment

Movement on stimulus bill as Manchin accepts new proposal

After seven long hours it seems like there is finally progress in the Senate as Sen. Manchin reportedly accepts a new amendment to the unemployment benefits provison in the package. As outlined here, the weekly payment would be dropped from $400 to $300, but would retain the $10K tax deduction that was included in the original stimulus bill. 

The benefits would also expire a few weeks short of the initial date of end of Sept, but it is considerable longer than the July deadline proposed by the Republicans. 

As we approach 8pm ET it seems like we may at last be ready for a vote on the Senate floor, and Senators can continue with the stimulus bill vote-a-rama.

Reddit reacts to stimulus bill delay in the Senate

An amendment focusing on the unemployment benefits provision has now been discussed for more than 7 hours as it draws near to the 10-hour record for a single piece of vote-a-rama legislation. The proposed amendment, which would see the weekly benefit lowered from $400 to $300 and only last until July, has been widely criticised online. 

Unsurprisingly the Reddit thread r/unemployment has been particularly critical, with one user "run by rich folks that have been collecting their paychecks doing literally nothing the last year". If the uncertainty were to drag on across the weekend it could lead to some awkward questions for President Biden who made passing the stimulus bill a top priority for his first months in office. 

Manchin has "no comment" on stimulus bill delay

The Senate is at a standstill as both sides look to earn the crucial vote of Dem Sen. Joe Manchin. The stimulus bill has been stuck on discussions over the first amendment for hours and Manchin is remaining tight-lipped on his thought for now. 

It has been reported that Manchin spoke to President Biden about his intentions earlier today, but was also on the phone to Senator Rob Portman just hours ago. Portman is the GOP Senator who proposed the counter-amendment. 

Dems desperately look for stimulus bill amendment solution

A new amendment led by Democrat Sen. Tom Carper could be the best chance that Biden has of avoiding a damaging defeat on the stimulus bill, after a GOP amendment calls for unemployment benefits to be reduced. The Dems need all 50 members to vote along the party line but Sen. Joe Manchin is considering with the Republicans on this issue, throwing the Senate vote into jeopardy. 

Republican Senator John Cornyn criticised the Dems' tactics, saying: "It sounds like a box canyon. I don't know why you put a bill on the floor and have a vote on something and you didn't know how the vote is going to turn out. That's kind of like whipping 101."

Protests in New York as stimulus bill stalls in Congress 

Discussions in Congress appear to be at a standstill at the moment as the Democrats looks to ensure they have enough support to see off a GOP amendment that would dramatically cut the unemployment benefits included in the bill. Usually the votes on this type of amendment take less than 30 minutes but this one has now taken five hours. 

At the same time, protestors have gathered on bridges in New York City to call on Congress to do more to support workers who have been hit by the pandemic. More on this as the protests unfold. 

Takei: "The people deserve better" as stimulus bill struggles in the Senate

Former Star Trek actor George Takei gives his take on the day's action in the Senate, a President Biden's American Rescue Plan has been subject to strong opposition. In the early hours of Friday morning Senate clerks finally finished reading the entire 628-page stimulus bill (as requested by a GOP Senator). In the afternoon a vote on the proposed $15 minimum wage was unsuccessful for Biden, a measure that had already been removed from his stimulus bill. 

Takei is a keen political commentator and was clearly frustrated with the day's action, tweeting that "the people deserve better". The Senate is still at a standstill as the Dems look to find support against a GOP amendment to the stimulus bill. 

Sen. Sinema gives minimum wage increase the 'thumbs down'

Alongside the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, senators have also been voting on the proposed increase to the federal minimum wage which would see it raised to $15 per hour over the next five years. When Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema took to the floor earlier to give her vote, she responded with a quick thumbs down. 

Footage of that has been circulating online and has been compared to a 2014 post from Sinema which called for Congress to raise the minimum wage. The proposal to raise the minimum wage was rejected on this occasion and a number of other Democrats also opposed the legislation, which had been a part of Biden's stimulus bill until recently. 

IRS has already distributed $85 billion in tax refunds

Millions of Americans have already received refund payments after completing their filing, with many receiving Recovery Rebate Credits in lieu of missing stimulus checks. The IRS has recently released the full data for the first two weeks of tax returns and it appears that they are processing the filings at a pretty swift rate.

However there are concerns that the process could soon face delays once the new stimulus bill is passed, and the IRS attempt to oversee both the tax returns procedure and the stimulus check distribution simultaneously. 

Read more:

Senate Democrats outline widespread support for stimulus bill

Taking to the floor of the Senate, Sen. Chris Murphy ran through some of the concerns that Republicans have raised about the huge $1.9 stimulus bill that will soon be put to a vote. He points out that the size of the economic issues faced are once-in-a-generation, and compares it to the cost of tax cuts dished out by the Trump administration. 

Proceedings in the Senate have been brought to a standstill as Dems look to get Sen. Joe Manchin on board after fears that he may vote in favour of an amendment issued by Republicans that would cut the unemployment benefits provision considerably. Manchin's dissention could destroy the delicate compromise between progressives and moderates within the Party and may scupper the chances of passing the overall bill. 

Democrats considering stimulus bill unemployment amendment

Senate Democrats appear to be having more trouble passing the covid-19 relief bill than was expected, with Sen. Joe Manchin still undecided on some key issues. The Dems need every party member if they are to pass the stimulus bill in a vote and Manchin is considered the most likely to dissent. 

They are currently discussing the unemployment benefits provision, which has been subject to an amendment from the Republicans. The Dem plan would provide $400 weekly additional jobless benefits until September, with the first $10,200 to be tax free.

The GOP alternatively offers no tax relief and payments would be just $300. Most important, their proposal would see the support end as early as July. 

Stimulus bill vote-a-rama into fourth hour

The Senate continues to discuss the first of a slew of prospective amendments to the new stimulus bill, which could affect the final package of stimulus checks and unemployment benefits included in the legislation. Biden will hope that the late change to stimulus check eligibility will have garnered enough support but still don't know if the Democrats have enough to pass the Senate vote. 

The first amendment alone has now surpassed three hours, far longer than the 30 mins that is typical. However it has some way to go before before the record, which came in June 2019. The vote called for Congress to bar former President Trump from launching military action against Iran unless the US was hit first, and took a whopping ten hours and eight minutes.

Unemployment benefits in stimulus bill get a make over

Democrats have agreed to reduce the federal supplemental unemployment benefits in the next stimulus bill from $400 to $300 per week. But in exchange the first $10,200 will be tax exempt in 2020. Sen. Tom Carper is expected to introduce the amendment during the Senate’s marathon voting session on Friday.

The vote-a-rama is still on the first amendment to stimulus bill

The vote-a-rama, the marathon session where Senators will introduce amendments to the covid-19 bill, looks set to go on for a long time. Each one should take about 30 minutes, so far they are still on the first, now two hours after starting.. There are many more expected to come.

$15 minimum wage hike will not be in the stimulus bill

Senator Bernie Sanders forced a vote on an amendment to add a $15 minimum wage hike to the covid-19 relief bill being considered in the Senate. The prospects of the provision re-entering the bill were slim to none with the Senate split 50-50 and no Republican votes were expected in support of the amendment.

So far six Democrats have voted against the provision and one Independent,  Angus King of Maine, who is in the Democratic caucus.

If people here want to vote against raising the minimum wage, you have that right. If you want to vote for it, and I hope you do, you have that right. But we should not shovel off that responsibility to an unelected staffer. That's wrong.

Bernie Sanders, Senator I-Vermont

Senate will vote on $15 minimum wage provision in half an hour

Without much chance of getting enough support from moderate Democrats to pass, at 11:30 am E.T the Senate will vote on a bill being pushed by Bernie Sanders to raise then federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over a period of four years.

Lot's of people are doing very well in this country, those people are thinking, $1,400 that's not a lot of money, you might spend that on a corporate lunch.

But if you're struggling to put food on the table for your children, that $1,400 dollars, or $5,600 for a family of four, is life or death, it's dignity or desperation.

Bernie Sanders, Senator, I-Vermont

Democrats have agreed to lower jobless benefit ceiling

Capitol Hill journalists are confirming reports that Democrats have made a compromise to lower the upper limit of extended pandemic unemployment benefit. The original provision was for $400. It could now be $300.

Bernie Sanders in the Senate today: the mittens are off!

The vote-a-rama is about to begin in the Senate, a necessary process to pass laws in the upper chamber.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont made an impassioned speech, touching in many of the injustices brought about by the pandemic such as the minimum wage raise and mental health provision

Among other things, Sanders said:

"This is a bill which will answer a profound question. Are we living in a democratic society where the US Congress will respond to the needs of working families rather than just the wealthy and large corporations and their lobbyists? That's what today is about.

"This legislation is the most consequential and significant legislation for working families that Congress has debated for many, many decades."

$1,400 third stimulus check: how many people will lose out under new income limit?

Compromises from Democrats have been forced on stimulus check eligibility. What do the suggested eligibility changes mean for Americans, who will lose out under the new income limit?

On Friday the Senate session on $1.9tn covid relief bill continues.

Read the full story:

Oregon senator Wyden makes case for $15 minimum wage

On an amendment Ron Wyden is bringing to the floor alongside senator Bernie Sanders, he made the case that the whole country suffers the more people living in poverty.

They say they want to incentivise hard work, well a living wage does just that

Ron Wyden, Senator for Oregon

I won't read it all again, I think our clerks had enough fun reading it last night

Bernie Sanders, Senator for Vermont

Bernie Sanders gets passionate addressing Senate on stimulus bill

Sanders, I-Vt, makes the case for the bill from the point of view of mental health crises, especially in young people, which have risen exponentially, he says.

The economy is still struggling, one in four businesses have closed, he says.

Senate proceedings on stimulus bill preparing for vote

Mitch McConnell takes the Senate floor as proceedings to debate the American Rescue Plan Act, or the third major stimulus package (sixth overall) to be presented in the chamber since the pandemic began.

Currently the Senate Minority Leader McConnell is repeating concerns that the stimulus checks of up to $1,400 and extended unemployment benefits of $300 could mean that people don't seek work.

After Senators have the chance to present their amendments and objections, the amended bill will be voted on, then another vote-a-rama will take place before another vote.

Friday in the Senate: stimulus bill and third stimulus checks to be debated

The Senate is preparing to convene for the day's proceedings on Biden's American Rescue Plan Act. You can watch the proceedings as they happen on this live video feed.

How to deal with delay tactics: stimulus bill debates delayed by GOP

In 2009 the Democrats dealt with the same issue in a hilarious way: they hired a speed-reader. Watch as the specially-hired clerk reads at breakneck speed the clean-energy bill in question.

As Rachel Maddow notes in this segment, the rules have now changed, so unfortunately this was not an option with the current stimulus bill.

On Thursday, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin raised an objection which resulted in all 628 pages of the bill being read aloud, by four clerks, from 3:20pm until 2:05am.

Stimulus relief bill vote: how things went last night in the Senate

CNN Washington correspondent Manu Raju was there.

"The Senate adjourned after clerks finished reading the bill text at 2:05am on Friday morning. They started at 320pm Thursday afternoon when Ron Johnson forced them to read the 628-page bill aloud"

Kamala Harris leaves Senate after breaking a tie on stimulus bill

PICTURE: Vice President Harris leaves Senate after first day's stimulus bill debate

Debate over the future of the new stimulus bill was in danger of grinding to a halt Thursday night after all Republicans voted to halt the progress of the $1.9 trillion package. 

But thanks to the intervention of Vice President Kamala Harris (pictured) the debate is back on as the Democrats look to pass the third round of stimulus checks. 

We will continue to cover proceedings from Washington Friday as the Senate prepares to vote on the new covid-19 relief bill. The vote is expected to take place at some point this weekend, and the stimulus checks could be signed into law by President Biden within days. 

Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP

It is only a partisan bill in the United States Senate. 60% of Republicans favour the American Rescue Plan. Everybody is hurting in this country.

Chris Murphy, Senator for Connecticut

WATCH: debunking "it's too expensive" criticism of stimulus bill

Senator Christ Murphy of Connecticut Thursday attacked the argument being made by Republicans that the stimulus relief package, picking on a 2017 Republican tax bill that cost the government $1.9 trillion - the same amount as the proposed coronavirus relief bill - which offered tax cuts to corporations, heirs of expensive properties and the richest 1%.

The other argument he made was that when the CARES Act was passed in a bipartisan way in March, the covid-19 deaths were a fraction of what they are today in America.

 

Democrat frustrated at Sen. Johnson's stimulus bill delay

Senate clerks are currently in the process of reading out the entirety of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill proposed by President Biden, all 628 pages of it. This comes after Republican Senator Ron Johnson ignored the usual custom and demanded that the bill is read aloud in the chamber before the debate can begin. 

It was an attempt to delay and disrupt the passing of the bill which he and other Republicans vehemently oppose, but may have other consequences. California Rep. Ted Lieu believes the gambit may actually backfire as the full extent of the covid-19 support supplied by the package is made clear. 

The Republicans have painted the bill as largely irrelevant to the pandemic response, but Lieu believes that this stunt may in fact prove the opposite. As he points out the majority of spending is focused on the pandemic, with the $1,400 stimulus checks taking up nearly one quarter of the total cost. 

Stimulus bill debate resumes after VP tie-break

Debate over the future of the new stimulus bill was in danger of grinding to a halt Thursday night after all Republicans voted to halt the progress of the $1.9 trillion package. But thanks to the intervention of Vice President Kamala Harris the debate is back on as the Democrats look to pass the third round of stimulus checks. 

We will continue to cover proceedings from Washington as the Senate prepares to vote on the new covid-19 relief bill. The vote is expected to take place at some point this weekend, and the stimulus checks could be signed into law by President Biden within days. 

AGI will affect your tax returns and stimulus check entitlement

Adjusted Gross Income has been spoken about a lot recently and it plays a key role in two important processes being overseen by the IRS. Your AGI decides how what deductions and tax credits you are able to claim in your 2020 tax return filings, which could see thousands knocked off your total bill. It is also the basis of eligibility for the upcoming round of stimulus checks and will decide whether or not you get a $1,400 payment. 

As the Senate prepares to vote on the new stimulus checks, we take a look at what AGI is and how to calculate your figure. 

Read more:

Delaying new covid-19 relief bill will cost lives

While the Senate mulls over the $1.9tn covid-19 relief bill, around 1,400 Americans could lose their lives, the Washington Post reports. Passing the bill has been held up after Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson insisted that the 628 pages of the bill were read out aloud - a process that could take over 10 hours. Senate clerks, John Merlino and Mary Anne Clarkson started taking it in turns to read out the bill at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Sen Johnson: covid-19 Relief debt adds up to $18,000 per person 

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who requested that all 628 pages of the proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan has claimed that the new bill will plunge the country further into debt - the equivalent of $18,000 per person.

Positive effects of $500 universal basic income experiment in California

In February 2019, the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) experiment was launched in Stockton, California. It gave 125 randomly selected residents $500 per month for two years - the monthly payments were unconditional, with no strings attached with no work requirements. A recent study by independent researchers Dr. Stacia West of the University of Tennessee and Dr. Amy Castro Baker of the University of Pennsylvania showed that the monthly stipends had numerous positive effects, such as enabling recipients to find full-time employment, gave households financial stability and in general, those who received a regular basic income were healthier and less likely to suffer depression or anxiety.

Chuck Schumer: covid-19 relief bill will be passed

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is confident that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan will be passed in spite of Republican efforts to slow the process down. “The Senate is going to move forward with the bill. No matter how long it takes, the Senate is going to stay in session to finish the bill this week,” he said on Thursday.

Sen. Ron Johnson requested that Senate clerks read out every page of the 628-page bill - which could take them up to 10 hours. “We all know this will merely delay the inevitable. It will accomplish little more than a few sore throats for the Senate clerks who work very hard,” Schumer added. “The senator from Wisconsin wants to give the American people another opportunity to hear what’s in the American Rescue plan. We Democrats want America to hear what’s in the plan”.

Democrats eye March deadline for new stimulus bill

The $1.9 trillion package proposed by President Biden must be passed by the Senate before the new stimulus checks and other financial relief can be distributed.

Read the full story:

The IRS has introduced a tax credit for working parents

The child and dependent care credit allows working parents to recoup expenses incurred to have a child or disabled dependent taken care of while at work.

Read the full story:

WATCH: Pelosi on $15 wage battle: it's nowhere near over

On being asked about what happens now that the proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour over four years has been dropped from the stimulus bill,  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said "there will be other resolutions" in reference to the budget resolution used this time round to pass the bill with a simple 51 vote majority. Pelosi went on:

"The fight for 15 is one that many of us have been involved in for a few years, and just because this may not survive the Senate right now doesn't mean that that fight is anywhere near over."

Stimulus package popularity across the map

Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin probably won’t be very well received the next time he goes back home. His home state is one that has a nearly 70% favourability rating for the $1.9 trillion covid-relief bill.

Sen. Johnson has begun making the Senate clerk read the entire bill, which could take 10 hours. Because it requires unanimous consent to dispense with the reading of the bill, there is little Democrats can do to stop Johnson.  

Republicans also plan to drag the Democrats across the coals with a slew of amendments. The hope is to drive a wedge into Democratic unity by forcing them to target the bill more. Additionally, to get fodder for campaign ads with sights set on 2022. 

Looking at a map of the US showing the results of a new YouGov/The Economist poll, their strategy may backfire.

McConnell: people will stop working if they get $1,400 stimulus check 

The Senate has begun debates on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion economic relief bill finally, after some late alterations to the bill. Friday will continue 20 hours of required debate on the legislation in the upper chamber. The deliberations may go on much longer with Republicans planning to draw out the debate to delay a final vote. 

The bill isn’t expected to get a single GOP vote with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell telling Fox News on Wednesday why he is against one portion, the $1,400 stimulus checks. McConnell told host Martha MacCallum "There is a concern about making it more advantageous to stay home rather than going back to work."

While Senate prepares for stimulus check proposal, the House passes 3 new bills 

HR1 is a sweeping government, ethics and election bill that, among other things, would counter state-level Republican efforts to restrict voting access. As of February, state legislators in 43 states had introduced more than 250 bills with restrictive voting provisions, according to a tally from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. A similar bill was passed during the previous Congress but was never take up in the House. 

George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a measure that would outlaw chokeholds, seek to end religious and racial profiling and bar certain no-knock warrants among other police policy changes. 

The Equality Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. If the Equality Act became law, private businesses that are open to the public, including retail stores like bakeries and flower shops, would not be permitted to deny service to LGBTQ people by claiming it violates their religious beliefs. The bill applies to employment, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations, and programs that receive federal funding. 

Biden won’t make the same mistake on stimulus that Obama did 

Biden said yesterday that the Obama administration paid a political price for not more openly celebrating the passage of its 2009 stimulus, suggesting he won’t repeat the mistake with his $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill. Biden told House Democrats in a meeting that President Obama “was so modest” about taking a “victory lap” after he signed the bill. 

At that time Obama negotiated with the GOP even though Democrats had a majority to pass the bill on their own. In the end not a single Republican member of the House voted for the stimulus. The Senate voted 61–37 with only 3 GOP votes. Some of the changes put into the bill, in particular the reduction in its size and scope, resulted in the stimulus package not having the full desired effect causing the Great Recession to drag out. 

This time around Biden's proposal boasts overwhelming public support (roughly 70% at recent count) and includes the hugely popular third stimulus check. The Democrats will likely want to make the most of any popularity boost when the $1,400 direct payments do finally go out. 

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus relief bill progress and third stimulus checks.

The Senate began its debating on the $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue proposal on Thursday and Friday the process continues.

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