NATIONAL — On Friday, the United States Congress approved a budget resolution that would pave the way for President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief plan to pass—with some key adjustments. The Senate voted to approve early that morning in an even vote in which Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote.
The House of Representatives voted to approve the resolution later that day. Democrats in Congress are planning to use a reconciliation process to pass the budget. Next steps will involve the House and Senate committees drafting their own versions of the bill that follow the guidelines laid out by Joe Biden's plan.
The original plan calls for $1,400 budget checks for Americans, but some Democrats (and many Republicans) have voiced a need to limit those checks to lower-income citizens, while others have voiced concern over the amount given and said it would likely be a smaller amount in the final bill.
In the Senate, Democrats supported a proposal by Republican Senator Joni Ernst, which would prohibit a minimum wage increase. This would directly contradict Biden's plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 with the relief package's passage.
Democrats in Congress are aiming to pass identical bills by March 14, when current unemployment benefits expire, but the road ahead will be a challenging one.
Biden spoke on the matter on Friday as well, citing the U.S. Department of Labor's report that the economy had only added 49,000 jobs in January and the labor market is still falling short of pre-pandemic levels by 10 million jobs. In some good news, however, the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.3% over the past month. Find out more on that here.