House committee advances key portion of Covid-19 relief bill hours after Democrats finish arguments in impeachment trial
By Lauren Fox, Daniella Diaz, and Annie Grayer, CNN
(CNN) -- The House Ways and Means Committee advanced its portion of the coronavirus relief bill Thursday just hours after the House impeachment managers finished arguing their case in the Senate trial, a sign Democrats are trying not to let impeachment completely sideline their work on President Joe Biden's agenda.
The committee's portion of the bill, which totals $940 billion, makes up a hefty piece of the coronavirus relief package Democrats are working on and includes two key provisions: $1,400 stimulus checks and an expansion of the child tax credit.
The checks became a focal point for Democrats in recent days, with some moderates and Republicans arguing they should be more targeted. Ultimately, House Democrats settled on a formula that phases out the checks at the same income thresholds as previous legislation -- $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples -- but phases the checks out faster at upper-income levels.
The expanded child tax credit, which was included in Biden's proposals, would provide $3,600 per child under the age of 6 and $3,000 per child ages 6 through 17 for a single year, although Democrats have aimed to make the proposal permanent in the future. The provision would provide families with monthly payments as soon as July, although some have voiced concerns that it could take time for the IRS to get the payments up and running.
The House Ways and Means Committee is just one of 12 House committees writing pieces of the Democrats' Covid-19 relief bill. The House Education and Labor Committee passed its portion of the bill, which included raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, early Wednesday morning. Other committees are also expected to move their provisions this week.
Next week, the House Budget Committee will put the pieces together, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said during her news conference Thursday morning that she wants the package passed by the House by the end of February and on the President's desk before March 14, when some unemployment benefits are set to expire.
The building of the Covid-19 relief bill will continue to play out behind the scenes and ultimately have a big impact on Biden's legacy, test his ability to manage his party's diverse coalitions, and make the first impression of whether Democrats will be able to govern with their narrow majorities in the House and Senate. Pelosi can lose just five Democrats in the process, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York cannot afford to lose a single member on his side.
"We are going to have to stay united, and that means the moderates and progressives are going to have to land someplace together. What gives me confidence is that nobody is talking about tanking the bill. Everybody is talking about what they want in it, but no one is making any absurd threat that if they don't get X, then no coronavirus relief," Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, told CNN.
Already, senators have signaled they may want changes to the House bill once it comes to the Senate.
"I just want to make sure we are targeted," Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, told CNN.
Schatz added, "We will probably agree with 90% of it and then make some changes."
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