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U.S. House aims for early February COVID-19 relief bill vote

January 21, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives is planning to bring a coronavirus relief bill to a vote the first week of February, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday, as President Joe Biden’s administration grapples with a crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

“We will be doing our committee work all next week so that we will be completely ready to go to the floor when we come back,” Pelosi said.

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Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill that would provide enhanced jobless benefits and direct cash payments to households struggling amid the economic fallout from the virus.

Though Biden’s Democratic party holds narrow majorities in the House and Senate, the legislation will likely need bipartisan support to clear procedural hurdles and emerge from the Senate.

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Some Republicans have raised questions about pushing out more direct payments on the heels of last month’s enactment of a coronavirus aid bill. Many of them also oppose aid to state and local governments, a top priority of Democrats.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt told reporters that while there were some items in the package he could back, he thought the proposal in its current form would be unlikely to pass.

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“I suspect the whole package is a non-starter, but it’s got plenty of starters in it,” Blunt said.

(Reporting by Makini Brice, Richard Cowan, Doina Chiacu and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Dan Grebler)