This week: Biden, Democrats face decision point on coronavirus relief
© Greg Nash/Getty Images

Congressional Democrats are moving forward with coronavirus relief, even if it means passing it without GOP support. 

Democrats want to pass a budget resolution as soon as this week in both the House and Senate. The step would greenlight passing a separate coronavirus relief bill through reconciliation, a budget procedure that will let it bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster. 

The strategy will test Democratic unity just weeks into President BidenJoe BidenBiden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies Overnight Defense: Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave | Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security | Army conducts review after 4 Black soldiers harassed at Virginia IHOP Feds expect to charge scores more in connection to Capitol riot MORE's administration. In addition to a slim margin in the House, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate to vote next week on repealing Trump methane rule  Joe Lieberman to push senators on DC statehood On The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit MORE (D-N.Y.) will need every member of his caucus to vote for the budget resolution and the eventual coronavirus relief legislation in order to pass it without GOP support.


House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women Allow a vote on the 'Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act' Female Republicans 'horrified' by male GOP lawmaker's description of Cheney: report MORE (D-Calif.) has pledged to bring up the budget resolution, with the aim of Congress finishing step one by the end of the week. 

"We're going to bring a budget resolution to the floor next week and then it will send it over to the Senate. Then, if they change it, then we'll take it back and address it. But by the end of the week, we will be finished with the budget resolution," she said. 

The reconciliation instructions included in the budget resolution will likely sign off on $1.9 trillion in spending, in line with Biden's coronavirus proposal. Congressional committees would then be tasked with drafting pieces of the aid package. 

Schumer hasn't formally locked the Senate into approving a budget resolution, but has warned that the chamber could vote as soon as this week. Passing the budget resolution through the Senate this week, aides acknowledge, would be an aggressive timeline that would include a marathon session known as a vote-a-rama. 

An East Coast snowstorm is further scrambling the Senate's schedule. But the Senate needs to act on the budget resolution before next week, when former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE’s second impeachment trial will start. 

Schumer, speaking Sunday at a press conference in New York, pointed to coronavirus relief as a top agenda item for the week, in addition to confirming nominations and negotiating on the trial. 


"We must move forward on a COVID-19 relief bill. ... We cannot wait," Schumer said.

“We intend to move forward. We hope that we can move forward with a bipartisan way with our Republican colleagues cooperating. But we need big, bold action and if we can’t move forward with them, we’ll have to move forward on our own. Getting the job done in a big bold way is the number one priority," he added.

To pass a budget resolution in the Senate without GOP help, Schumer will need the backing of his entire 50-member caucus. 

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi pushes for drug pricing measure amid uncertainty from White House White House sees GOP proposal as legitimate starting point The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' MORE (I-Vt.) predicted on Sunday that they would have the votes, but not every senator has explicitly signed on. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOn The Money: White House sees GOP infrastructure plan as starting point | Biden to propose capital gains tax hike House approves bill to make DC a state NRA unveils ad campaign to push back on Biden's gun agenda MORE (D-W.Va.) declined when pressed multiple times late last week to say how he would handle the budget resolution vote. 

“Right now we’re just working through all the figures and doing everything we can to make sure Joe Biden’s successful. That’s all. ... We’re just working. Working to make it successful and make sense out of all it,” Manchin told reporters. 

Vice President Harris also gave interviews to Arizona and West Virginia publications that were widely viewed as an effort to try to pressure Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Manchin, sparking frustration from the conservative Democrat. 

“I couldn’t believe it. No one called me [about it],” Manchin told WSAZ. “We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, but we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together.” 

Democrats are also split over whether a push to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour will survive arcane Senate rules that determine what can, and cannot, be included under reconciliation.

Even as Democrats appear poised to move forward, a group of GOP senators is hoping to urge Biden to cut a bipartisan deal that would be substantially below the $1.9 trillion package he has proposed. 

Ten GOP senators sent a letter to Biden on Sunday asking for a meeting and outlining their own proposal that one signee, Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidySenate GOP crafts outlines for infrastructure counter proposal Bottom line Calls grow for national paid family leave amid pandemic MORE (R-La.), put around $600 billion. 

“In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support,” the senators wrote to Biden. “Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support.”

Biden subsequently called GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsHawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill Senate passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill Senate to vote next week on repealing Trump methane rule  MORE (R-Maine), who led the letter, and invited her and the other signees to a White House meeting early this week. 

“The President received a letter today from 10 Republican Senators asking to meet with him to discuss their ideas about the actions needed to address these crises. In response, the President spoke to Senator Collins, and invited her and other signers of the letter to come to the White House early this week for a full exchange of views,” said White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOn The Money: White House sees GOP infrastructure plan as starting point | Biden to propose capital gains tax hike Overnight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women Texas, Stephen Miller sue to force deportation of children, other migrants due to pandemic MORE

House GOP meeting

House Republicans are slated to hold their weekly conference meeting on Wednesday amid conservative gripes with House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyFemale Republicans 'horrified' by male GOP lawmaker's description of Cheney: report Cheney on Trump going to GOP retreat in Florida: 'I haven't invited him' RNC raises nearly M in record off-year March donations MORE (R-Wyo.), who has come under fire from the far right faction of the conference following her announcement that she would vote to impeach former President Trump for inciting the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

A group of conservatives — led by House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) — are attempting to force a vote calling on the Wyoming Republican to step down from her leadership role, which entails heading the House GOP’s messaging efforts. 

Cheney critics argue she has failed to represent the views of the majority of the conference, noting that more than half of House Republicans voted to challenge the certification of the Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania and Arizona. 


Her proponents argue she has shown leadership in a time where others have failed, noting other leaders referred to impeachment as a “vote of conscience” and did not whip against supporting the article. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress GOP state attorneys general urge Biden, Congress not to expand Supreme Court Pelosi: Jan. 6 commission must focus only on insurrection MORE (R-Calif.) — who met with Trump last week — said that he supports Cheney remaining in leadership, but has “concerns.” 

“We will have a conference next week. We won't air it to the public. But we'll answer the questions everybody has. This is the same leadership team with the ranking members and others that came five seats away from winning a majority when everybody in America thought we were going to lose 20 seats,” McCarthy said. 

“Yes, we allow differences of opinion inside our conference. They're welcomed. But I think there's questions that need to be answered, style in which things were delivered. At the end of the day, we will unify because our policies are right, which will unify us. ... Do we have growing pains? Yes, we will. But we will do it in our private manner of a conference that we hold every time, and we'll have it next week."

Cheney has asserted she has no plans to vacate her position, standing by her decision to impeach Trump. 

McCarthy called members during a conference call last week to unify and stop attacking each other. Despite the California Republican’s calls, Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs House rejects GOP resolution to censure Waters Jeffries roasts McCarthy over Waters: 'Clean up your own mess' MORE (R-Fla.) held a rally in Cheney’s home state of Wyoming on Thursday calling for her ouster. 



The Senate will confirm at least two additional Cabinet nominees, though an East Coast snowstorm scrambled the start of the Senate’s work week. 

The Senate had been scheduled to vote on Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasTexas, Stephen Miller sue to force deportation of children, other migrants due to pandemic Koch groups call on administration to release all temporary worker visas Bipartisan group of senators holds immigration talks amid border surge MORE, Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, but delayed the vote until Tuesday due to inclement weather. 

In addition to now holding a final confirmation vote for Mayorkas on Tuesday, the Senate will also hold a confirmation vote on Tuesday for Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden administration takes step toward allowing California to set its own tailpipe emissions standards Republicans unveil 8 billion infrastructure plan DOT appoints chief science officer for first time in 40 years MORE, Biden’s pick for Transportation secretary. 

Several Senate committees are also continuing work on Biden’s nominations. 

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a vote Tuesday on Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughOvernight Defense: Biden officially rolls out Afghanistan withdrawal plan | Probe finds issues with DC Guard helicopter use during June protests Congress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured Veterans shouldn't have to wait for quality care MORE’s nomination to lead the department and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a vote Wednesday on Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs Biden dispatches Cabinet members to sell infrastructure plan Watch live: Biden Cabinet officials testify on infrastructure plan MORE’s nomination to lead the Commerce Department. 

The Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE’s nomination to lead the department, a role he also held during the Obama administration. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday for Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaBiden's school plan doubles down on same old failure Biden administration extends universal free school lunch through 2022 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax MORE’s nomination to be secretary of Education and a hearing on Thursday for Mary Walsh’s nomination to lead the Labor Department. 

Meanwhile, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on Michael Stanley Regan’s nomination to be Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator.