This week: Biden, Democrats face decision point on coronavirus relief
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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 BidenRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Iowa governor suggests immigrants partially to blame for rising COVID-19 cases Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE's administration. In addition to a slim margin in the House, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer84 mayors call for immigration to be included in reconciliation Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? 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.

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House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger 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 TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit 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. 

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"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 SandersWomen's March endorses Nina Turner in first-ever electoral endorsement GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden Democrats brace for slog on Biden's spending plan MORE (I-Vt.) predicted on Sunday that they would have the votes, but not every senator has explicitly signed on. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy: Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas review | Biden admin reportedly aims for 40 percent of drivers using EVs by 2030 |  Lack of DOD action may have caused 'preventable' PFAS risks Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas moratorium Feehery: It's time for Senate Republicans to play hardball on infrastructure 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 CassidyBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor The Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries GOP centrists call on Schumer to delay infrastructure vote 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 CollinsOvernight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Crunch time for bipartisan plan; first Jan. 6 hearing today 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 PsakiAly Raisman defends former teammate Biles: 'I'm proud of her' On The Money: Schumer, Warren call on Biden to extend student loan pause | IMF estimates 6 percent global growth this year CDC backtracks with new mask guidance 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 CheneyMcCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony 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. 

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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 McCarthyHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger 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) GaetzFive takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony Protesters shut down Greene-Gaetz Jan. 6 event Cheney calls Gaetz, Greene DOJ protest a 'disgrace' MORE (R-Fla.) held a rally in Cheney’s home state of Wyoming on Thursday calling for her ouster. 

Nominations 

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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 MayorkasMayorkas working remotely after being exposed to COVID-19 Hillicon Valley: Tech groups urge Congress to 'dig deeper' on Facebook role in Capitol riot | Kaseya denies paying hackers for decryption key | Tech coalition expands tracking of extremist content Hillicon Valley: Amazon employees petition company to investigate discrimination allegations | ACLU calls for investigation into Alaska official over tweets | Electric cars to outsell combustion vehicles by 2036 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 ButtigiegChasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary 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 McDonoughThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Crunch time for bipartisan plan; first Jan. 6 hearing today Overnight Defense: Biden says US combat mission in Iraq wrapping by year's end | Civilian casualties in Afghanistan peak amid US exit | VA mandates COVID-19 vaccine for health workers Overnight Health Care: New round of vaccine mandates | Health groups call for mandates for all health workers | Rising case count reignites debate over restrictions MORE’s nomination to lead the department and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a vote Wednesday on Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoSunday shows - Jan. 6 investigation dominates Commerce secretary: We're 'very close' to passing bipartisan infrastructure bill Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe 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 celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Biden's Education Department must choose accountability or a 'Marbury v. Madison' moment Biden administration cancels .6M in student loan debt for fraud victims 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.