It was widely reported over the weekend that the House passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue package.
The legislation is now in the Senate and the Democratic leaders in that chamber have released a “substitute amendment” for the House-passed bill. This amendment will be the legislation that Senators will debate and seek to amend over the next several days.
One item missing from the Senate document is the provision increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years, which was included in the House-passed bill. It was removed because the Senate Parliamentarian determined that it was not germane to the legislation.
Senate Democratic leaders have also decided against pairing a minimum wage increase with a 5% penalty on corporate payrolls that paid workers less than a certain amount and tax incentives to help small businesses better afford the increase in wages.
Senate Democratic leaders chose not to include those measures because it would take too long to vet the penalty and tax incentives in their caucus, which would threaten quick passage from their chamber.
The Senate is expected to debate and seek to amend the rescue plan through the entire week.
Congressional Democrats hope to pass the rescue bill from Congress before March 14, 2021, which is when expanded unemployment benefits are currently scheduled to expire. The rescue bill extends these measures to the end of August.