Capitol Report: Biden to rally Senate Democrats as $1.9 trillion relief bill moves forward

United States

President Joe Biden will meet with Senate Democrats on Tuesday, as his $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package begins moving through the chamber and lawmakers eye a mid-March deadline for passage.

Fresh off a Monday meeting with eight Democratic senators and an independent who caucuses with them, Biden on Tuesday plans to call into Democrats’ lunch. With the Senate split 50-50, Biden can’t afford defections as he pushes for passage of the massive bill.

The Senate parliamentarian has rejected an increase in the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, a feature of the bill that passed the House of Representatives on Saturday, but there could be other tweaks demanded by members of Biden’s own party. The Washington Post reported some senators are pushing for changes related to the unemployment insurance in the bill, such as tying benefits to state jobless rates.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Monday that the Senate would take up the bill this week and that he expected “some late nights.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Schumer’s Republican counterpart, says the bill is poorly targeted and too generous.

As MarketWatch has reported, Democrats are focused on the March 14 expiration of pandemic-related jobless programs as their deadline for final passage of the bill. The House would need to approve the measure again after Senate passage.

Read: $ 1.9-trillion relief package is now in Senate’s hands as Democrats eye March 14 deadline

U.S. stocks on Tuesday were trading lower after their best one-day rally in months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.29% was off 87 points, while the S&P 500 SPX, -0.59% index was down 22 points and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, -1.04% fell 117 points.