The U.S. House has approved a massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan. It includes a new round of direct payments to eligible individuals and families, more unemployment benefits for jobless Americans, an increase for the child tax credit as well as other benefits for Americans. The move has been highly anticipated by millions of citizens who have been out of work and strapped for cash over the last year of the pandemic.
“The Senate was looking at using tax incentives and requiring corporations that pay less than $15 an hour to pay more in taxes and that would be appropriate.” — Rep. Andy Levin, Michigan’s 9th District
The legislation also includes a gradual increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, although it’s important to note that that provision will likely be stripped from the Senate version of the bill. Meanwhile, critics on both sides of the aisle have said the $1,400 direct checks aren’t enough, and Republicans are claiming the proposed legislation is a wasteful grab-bag of excessive spending. It now goes to the Senate, where it could come down to a 50-50 split with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.
Listen: Levin explains the highlights in the COVID-19 bill and what’s at stake for millions of Americans.
GUEST: Rep. Andy Levin is a Democrat from Bloomfield Township representing Michigan’s 9th District. On the issue of raising the minimum wage, which has been discussed at length recently, Levin says “we really need $15 an hour by 2025, but politics is complicated.”
When discussing other possibilities of paying for an increase in the federal minimum wage, Levin notes that “the Senate was looking at using tax incentives and requiring corporations that pay less than $15 per hour to pay more in taxes and that would be appropriate.”
On the topic of the Equality Act, Levin admits that he was naive initially in assuming that this legislation would easily pass.
“I was so excited to pass this legislation for the second time in the House that simply says no matter who you love, no matter what your identity is … all Americans are equal. It’s so basic,” says Levin, who recalls saying “we’re going to pass it and the Senate is going to pass it and get it to the president’s desk.”
Now, however, he is less optimistic. Levin also talks about the filibuster and notes that its original purpose was meant to thwart civil rights legislation.
“This issue of not having simple majority rule in the Senate is a really difficult one. I do worry that even though [Democrats] have won the majority in the Senate we still won’t be able to move our agenda because it takes 60 votes instead of 51 to pass things in the Senate … it shouldn’t be that way,” says Levin.
Web story by Allise Hurd