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Schumer: Senate could pave way for reconciliation on COVID relief next week

Schumer: Senate could pave way for reconciliation on COVID relief next week
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFirst Black secretary of Senate sworn in Republican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote The bizarre back story of the filibuster MORE (D-N.Y.) told Democrats on a conference call on Tuesday that they could vote as soon as next week on a budget resolution that would pave the way for coronavirus legislation to pass the chamber with a simple majority.

Schumer, who disclosed the detail to reporters during a press conference, didn't commit to using reconciliation — a budget process that bypasses the 60-vote filibuster — but warned that Democrats were willing to go it alone.

"We want to work with our Republican colleagues to advance this legislation," Schumer said. "[But] we're keeping all our options open, on the table, including budget reconciliation."

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"In keeping our options open on our caucus call today I informed senators to be prepared that a vote on a budget resolution could come as early as next week," Schumer said.

Passing a budget resolution will set up a chaotic process on the floor where any senator who wants an amendment vote can get a vote, providing plenty of opportunities to squeeze senators with tough votes.

The resolution would include instructions for creating legislation under reconciliation, a step that will allow Democrats to bring a coronavirus relief bill to the floor and pass it with only a simple majority.

Democrats have put a firm timeline on when they want to pass a bill, though they've pointed to March as a potential cutoff because of expiring unemployment benefits.

“We have a looming deadline of March 14 on unemployment compensation and I know we’re anxious to make sure that there’s no interruption of benefits for those millions who depend on it. So there is a sense of urgency,” said Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinFBI director set for combative hearing on mob attack No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage Senate mulls changes to .9 trillion coronavirus bill MORE (D-Ill.).

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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Senators push for changes as chamber nears vote on .9T relief bill | Warren offers bill to create wealth tax Sanders vows to force vote on minimum wage No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage MORE (I-Vt.), the incoming Budget Committee chairman, said he was already drafting instructions for reconciliation that would include a directive for an increase in the minimum wage as part of the eventual coronavirus legislation.

"We're working on it right now. We’re working on it right now," Sanders said.

"If Republicans are not prepared to come on board, that's fine. We're not going to wait. We're going forward soon, and aggressively," he added.