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The House of Representatives passed President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package early on Saturday morning, taking a first step toward the enactment of the new administration's top legislative priority.

In the narrowly divided House, the final vote hewed closely to party lines, 219-212, with two Democrats opposing
the leadership. (Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Jared Golden (D-ME) voted against the bill.) Having passed the House,
the relief legislation will now go to the Senate, where a provision increasing the federal minimum wage is expected to be stripped out of it. Last week the Senate parliamentarian ruled against including that provision under the reconciliation process, which Senate Democrats are using to pass the bill with a simple majority vote.

Once it passes the Senate, the bill will return to the House for another vote before it reaches Biden's desk for his signature.The bill advanced by the House includes $1,400 direct checks to Americans making less than $75,000 annually, an increased child tax credit, billions in direct funding to state and local governments, funding for schools, and additional support for vaccine distribution as the Biden administration seeks to fulfill the targets set for its first hundred days.

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Seedy Trump Loyalist Punted From Key National Security Post

Photo from NSA.gov

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Washington Post's Ellen Nakashima reports that long-time Trump loyalist Michael Ellis had resigned from his position as top lawyer for the National Security Agency after almost three months of being "sidelined" during Joe Biden's presidency. Journalist Steve Benen, in an op-ed for MSNBC's website, lays out some reasons why Ellis' departure from the NSA is an important development and a positive thing.

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