Senate Passes COVID Relief Bill Without $15 Minimum Wage

The Senate's bill changed the income threshold for direct payments, and it does not include a provision to raise the federal minimum wage.

Senate Passes COVID Relief Bill Without $15 Minimum Wage
Patrick Semansky / AP

The Senate passed President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package Saturday afternoon. 

The bill passed on a party-line vote. It will head back to the House of Representatives for approval before reaching the president's desk.

Key provisions include direct payments to Americans, extension of unemployment benefits, money for K-12 schools, and funds for state and local governments. 

Political jockeying and a parliamentarian ruling forced Senate Democrats to make changes to the House version of the bill. The Senate legislation does not include raising the minimum wage, and completely phases out direct payments for individuals making more than $80,000 and couples earning above $160,000. Individuals making up to $75,000 or couples making $150,000 will still receive $1400 payments.

The COVID relief bill also provides for federal unemployment benefits of $300 per week through Sept. 6, and it carves out $350 billion for state and local governments. That $350 billion should help pay health care workers, firefighters, police and more, and the Senate bill includes language to make sure some of that money is earmarked for states and cities with smaller populations. 

Democrats hope the legislation is signed by President Biden before unemployment benefits are set to expire March 14.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said the federal unemployment benefits would be $400 per week.