House on the verge of passing $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill as debt nears $28 trillion

The national debt is $27.9 trillion, according to the most recent U.S. Treasury data

The Democratic-led House is on the verge of passing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill as the national debt climbs to $28 trillion.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, confirmed Wednesday that the vote on the massive bill, the second largest stimulus package in U.S. history, is set to take place on Friday.

"We've passed over $4 trillion in assistance to the victims of COVID-19 both direct and many more an indirect impact on our economy and our people's health and I'm hopeful we can get to a point where we're, at least the majority, are focused on the welfare of the American people, their health, their economy, their security," Hoyer told reporters on a conference call. 

The national debt is now $27.9 trillion, according to the most recent U.S. Treasury data available. 

In fiscal 2020, the U.S. set a record for the size of the annual deficit, which added a whopping $3.13 trillion to the national debt.

The latest stimulus bill is a follow-up to the $900 billion stimulus package Congress passed in December of last year.

Congress also passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, the CARES Act, in March 2020. Since the pandemic began, Congress also passed additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to aid small businesses.

The new stimulus bill reflects the plan that President Biden unveiled after taking office.

The bill includes a gradual $15 minimum wage hike that takes places in phases until it reaches $15 by 2025. The Senate parliamentarian is expected to rule soon on whether the increase can be included as part of the budget reconciliation process Democrats are using to pass the stimulus bill without the need for Republican votes. 

"We are very, very committed to raising the minimum wage," Hoyer said.

Despite a slim 50-50 majority in the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker, Hoyer said he expects the new Congress to pass a great deal of legislation.

"I think this is going to be a very productive Congress. I think we're going to pass a lot of very good pieces of legislation which are going to be overwhelmingly supported by the American people and hopefully the Senate, with or without reconciliation, will find itself about to put those bills on the floor and pass them in a bipartisan," he said.