Democrats Moving With Budget Reconciliation For COVID-19 Relief

Washington – Congressional Democrats are preparing to move forward with a process that will allow them to pass the coronovirus relief law without a Republican vote, in the event that the lawmakers prepare a bipartisan deal in a new round of federal aid. Are unable to.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that the House would bring a budget proposal to the floor next week, the first step to use the process Budget reconciliation Pass a bill. Republicans have expressed concern about the price tag of President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion relief proposal, meaning the bill may not get enough votes to advance in the Senate without using reconciliation.

“I hope we don’t need it, but if we need it,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday about budget reconciliation, an option to use a maneuver that passed the bill with a simple majority in the Senate Can be used to do. “We want it to always be bipartisan, but we cannot surrender.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly news conference at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday, January 28, 2021.

Caroline Bridesman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Image

Senate Chief Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday that the upper chamber would begin the process of considering “a very strong COVID relief bill” next week.

“Our priority is to make this important work bipartisan, including input, ideas and amendments to include the efforts of our Republican colleagues or Bipartisan. But if our Republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation “So we have to move forward. Without them,” Schumer said. The White House has indicated that it is not ready to split the proposal into smaller packages, keeping its hopes of arriving at a deal on a larger package.

Democrats have a slim majority of 50 seats in the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris has no tie-breaking vote, and most legislation requires 60 votes in the Senate to end the debate. The motion will not go forward until Democrats get the support of 10 Republicans. The White House is negotiating with a bipartisan group of 16 senators to work out a deal, but even though all eight Republicans of that coalition agreed to vote for the bill, Democrats had to reach the 60-vote threshold Two more Republican votes would be required.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, told reporters earlier this week that Democrats are working on writing a budget proposal that could be introduced early next week.

“Everybody wants to work in a bipartisan way, we hope Republicans will come on board. But the fact is that this country is facing a more unprecedented crisis in terms of epidemics today,” Sanders told reporters Wednesday. “We have a problem, the American people are hurting, and we’ve got to react fast. I hope that my Republican co-workers come on board. But if we’re not moving.”

Budget cohesion accelerates processes in the House and Senate and allows certain types of legislation to proceed with just a simple majority, meaning Democrats will not need any Republican votes to pass the bill .

“I expect that we have a bipartisan approach, but we need an adequate approach. We need it in time and I hope they will join us in that effort,” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, of the Binocular Group One of the members. With the White House, said Thursday. He also said that Mr. Biden called Republican senators that “these Republicans have been taken directly by the President in the personal belief that we can do this on bipartisan basis.”

Durbin warned that “there is a very real possibility” that Congress could proceed with the budget reconciliation process if they are unable to arrive at a deal soon. But passing a relief resolution through budget reconciliation may weaken Mr. Biden’s message that he wanted to work on a bipartisan basis when he entered office with Republicans, and sowed distrust among Republicans against the administration.

Republican Senator Todd Young told reporters Thursday about the possibility of passing a resolution through budget amendments, saying, “This is going to send a signal to Republicans in America, and all over Congress, that this president’s message of unity is a matter of substance.” The opposite was rhetoric. “

Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio is a member of the bipartisan group of senators who met with White House economic aide Brian Desse on Sunday to discuss the relief package, from the Biden administration’s approach to working on Republicans Have become worried

“It’s good to talk about Bipartiship, but actually it’s better to do it,” Portman told reporters on Tuesday. “If the House decides to move forward with a vision of reconciliation, which is a way of working with Republicans, I think it would be not just a big mistake at the beginning of this administration at this stage, but given irresponsibility. Gone COVID-19 package. “

There is a catch for using budget cohesion – Legislation is known colloquially as a “rule”, which can limit the provisions that can be included. The rule, in the name of the late Senator Robert Bird, prohibits “extinct” provisions in the reconciliation, so that only items affecting federal budgetary spending are included. Some provisions in Mr. Biden’s proposal, such as raising the minimum wage to $ 15 per hour and enforcing paid family leave, may not qualify for inclusion under the Byrd rule.

Republican Senator John Cornyn warned that breaking the Bird rule to allow passage of the $ 15 minimum wage would “dismantle the Senate as an institution that has to end filming.” A move, backed by progressives in Congress, would allow all laws to be passed by a simple majority, eliminating the legislative filibuster.

White House press secretary Jane Saki on Thursday reiterated that President Biden still wants the COVID-19 relief package to be bipartisan, because congressional Democrats with a simple majority vote would pass a process to pass the COVID-19 relief package. As using procedural methods. . But she said Republicans could join through reconciliation, even objecting to key components of the Republican proposal.

“Republicans can still vote for a package” if it goes through a reconciliation, said Pakki.

Asked if Mr. Biden would sign a bill that has no Republican support, Saki replied, well, we’re not quite there, it’s taking us a few steps ahead of where we are now. ”

A participant on the call said top Biden administration officials held a meeting with Senate Democrats on Thursday afternoon and answered questions that were “about policy”.

There was “no discussion of breakout”, namely, the idea of ​​breaking the law into separate parts, this participant said.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumentel of Connecticut said the phone call was “excellent”, noting that the COVID-19 relief package should not be divided.

“We have to do it all together. It all fits together,” Blumental said. “I have zero tolerance for delays. I don’t have the patience to waste time, we need to do this all at once. I think that’s common sense in the caucus.”

The White House threw cold water on Thursday at the idea of ​​splitting a package.

“We’re not splitting that package. It’s not a White House proposal,” Saki said.

Ed O’Keefe, Jack Terman and Catherine Watson contributed reporting.


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