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Senate expected to begin stimulus debate today

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Tamara Fucile, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Senior Counselor, joins Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers to discuss what's next for Biden’s $1.9T stimulus plan.

Video Transcript

KRISTEN MYERS: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. Time now for our Funding Our Future segment. So let's chat stimulus, and its impact on Americans, as the Senate is going to be considering its version of an economic package. We're joined now by Tamara Fucile, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Senior Counselor.

So Tamara, we keep hearing that the economy continues to recover. And we've had two economic aid packages already passed. How much do Americans still need more stimulus?

TAMARA FUCILE: Well that's a great question. I think that what we're seeing is that, across the country, the hardship levels that people are facing as a result of the pandemic remain quite high. 81 million people cannot pay their usual expenses, according to Census Bureau data. And those households include 31 million children. So there are still quite a number of people who are feeling the economic fallout from this pandemic. We know that the labor market, while it is recovering, is not where it needs to be. We're still 10 million jobs below where we were, prepandemic. And the recovery as a long way off.

So the types of relief that were included in the American Rescue Package-- that was passed by the House last week, and the Senate will consider starting today-- really are the types of stimulus that are quite necessary to help our country bounce back from this global pandemic.

KRISTEN MYERS: And what kind of differences do you think are going to remain between the House and Senate bills? We know that the Senate is not going to include that minimum wage hike to $15 an hour. And the Senate and the House have often had huge rifts, in the past, when considering these bills. Where do you think we're going to be after the Senate passes their own package?

TAMARA FUCILE: Yeah, I think that there's going to be a couple of changes. But I think overall, most of the package is going to be the same. As you mentioned, the biggest difference is that the minimum wage provisions that were included in the House bill will be taken out. Those don't pass the Senate rules that are required for considering the bill under reconciliation, so that will come out.

Another change that was announced earlier today is that, under pressure from Senate Democratic moderates, the President has agreed to change the stimulus payment slightly. There's going to be some targeting to that, to make sure that the payments are going to the people who are most in need. And who are most likely to turn around and spend the payments, which is critical for them to have the stimulative effect.

Those are two of the big changes. There will be some other changes, potentially some changes around some of the fiscal aid provisions or some other changes. But I think most of the package is going to be quite similar to the House. And we know that Congress is rushing to get this done by the March 14th deadline, when existing jobless benefits will expire. So I anticipate-- or lots of us who are watching Congress are anticipating-- that once the Senate passes the package this week, that early next week the House will take it up, and pass it, and get it quickly to President Biden for his signature.

KRISTEN MYERS: You know, I think when it comes to this reconciliation there was a lot less posturing-- and back and forth between the Senate and the House-- at least unlike we've seen in previous iterations of economic aid packages. I'm wondering, however, if you think that same bipartisanship will continue later into this year, or even next year, if further stimulus and further economic aid packages are considered?

TAMARA FUCILE: Yeah, I think that part of the reason that you're seeing such close coordination, between the House and the Senate, is because the Congressional margins are slim. Speaker Pelosi doesn't have a number of Democrats that she can lose, and we know that Leader Schumer needs to get every single member of his caucus supportive of the package. So because of that, I think that there's been a lot of coordination between the House and the Senate-- and the White House-- as this moves forward.

As you mentioned, the bill does have bipartisan support. We've certainly seen a number of Republican governors be supportive of this type of relief. Whether or not it gets bipartisan support in Congress, I think, is an outstanding question. But as we move forward, I think that we're going to continue to see this type of coordination between the House, the Senate, and the White House as they move to swiftly enact the President's agenda, as he places addressing the coronavirus as his number one priority.

KRISTEN MYERS: All right. Tamara Fucile, Senior Counselor at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Thanks so much for joining us today for this Funding Our Future segment.