President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package has passed muster at the House of Representatives, thus effecting a major milestone towards enacting the first legislative priority of the new administration.

The devastating fallout from the spread of Covid-19 has left Americans in dire need of further relief. The promptitude of the present is in refreshing contrast to the inertia of the previous. There was no question of bipartisan support as no Republican voted for the measure. Notably, two Democrats broke ranks and voted against the bill ~ Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Jared Golden of Maine.

It is cause for surprise that assistance for quite the worst public health catastrophe has been impeded by the legislative (aka political) dichotomy. Making the effort more complicated, the Senate is expected to use a provision in the legislation increasing the federal minimum wage after the Senate parliamentarians ruled against including it under the procedure known as reconciliation, which Democrats are using to pass the bill with a simple majority vote.

The bill would then have to go back to the House for a separate vote before it could be sent to Mr Biden to be signed into law. The President has praised the House for passing the bill and called on the Senate to take “quick action” on the measure.

“If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly,” he said, “we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again, and the people of this country have suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suffering.”

The package advanced by the House Democrats also includes direct aid to small businesses, $1,400 cheques to Americans earning less than $ 75,000 annually, an increase in the child tax credit, direct funding to state and local governments, funding for schools and more money for vaccine distribution. This is actually a fairly comprehensive public welfare package. House Republicans have urged their members to vote against the package and worked to limit defections.

Republicans have argued that the legislation overreaches and serves as a liberal wish-list of agenda items and have complained that they were locked out of the process for crafting the measure. Democrats counter that they are willing to work with Republicans, but will not water down the plan; they say they have a mandate to take sweeping action to address the pandemic now that they control Congress and the White House.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Speaker of the House of Representatives, stopped short of skirting Senate procedures ~ “We will seek a solution consistent with Senate rules, and we will do so soon.”

That is in the true tradition of democracy. The enormity of the Covid tragedy ought to take precedence over everything. A positive matrix has guided Joe Biden, so very unlike the negativism of his predecessor, Donald Trump, or the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who had initially sought to dumb down coronavirus as “just a flu”. It’s more than that, to say the least.