COVID-19 relief package moves to Senate, faces GOP opposition

Washington DC Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Biden administration is celebrating a third COVID-19 vaccine that’s now out for delivery. The White House says 3.9 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine will be distributed this week.

“All three vaccines are safe and highly effective,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday.

Despite that good news, the CDC is warning states against rolling back public health measures too soon.

“Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Walensky added.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is looking to the Senate to approve his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed in the House over the weekend. But as the bill reaches the Senate, it’s facing GOP opposition.

“Less than 10% of this bill has anything to do with COVID,” Sen. Rick Scott said Monday.

The Florida Republican said the current bill doesn’t have his support.

“I’m not gonna go waste $2 trillion. It’s taxpayer money. It’s somebody’s money,” he said. “I want a targeted bill.”

One item that won’t be in the bill is the proposed $15 minimum wage increase that’s now declared off limits by the Senate rules.

“I support raising the min wage, but it clearly cannot be on this reconciliation bill,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Monday.

Senate Democrats aren’t giving up entirely and want to try again down the road.

“I recommend we look for another venue,” Durbin added.

Right now, Senate Democrats are preparing their version of the bill. It’s expected to be completed Wednesday.

The Senate has less than two weeks to pass the package and get it to President Biden’s desk before unemployment benefits expire on March 14.

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