Schumer lays groundwork for moving COVID-19 relief
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the Senate will start on Tuesday to lay the groundwork for passing a coronavirus relief bill with only a simple majority.
Schumer, speaking from the Senate floor, said the Senate would take an initial procedural vote on Tuesday afternoon to proceed to a budget resolution. The bill, once passed, will allow Democrats to avoid a 60-vote filibuster for a separate coronavirus relief bill.
“The Senate is going to move forward this week with the process for producing the next bold rescue package. … The Senate will vote to proceed on the budget resolution this afternoon,” Schumer said.
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) filed a budget resolution Monday that includes instructions for crafting a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — a top-line figure in line with President Biden’s proposal.
The House is expected to pass the budget resolution on Wednesday. While the Senate faces tens of hours of debate, and a marathon session known as a vote-a-rama, Democrats are hoping to pass the resolution by the end of the week.
The decision to move forward comes after Biden met with a group of 10 GOP senators Monday night, with Republicans offering a $618 billion proposal.
Both sides agreed to keep talking, but the White House signaled after the meeting that they are comfortable with moving forward with reconciliation and want a big package.
“[Biden] reiterated that while he is hopeful that the Rescue Plan can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end. The President also made clear that the American Rescue Plan was carefully designed to meet the stakes of this moment, and any changes in it cannot leave the nation short of its pressing needs,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“He reiterated … that he will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment,” she added.
Nothing prevents Republicans from voting for the final coronavirus bill, but Republicans have warned that using the reconciliation process would undercut Biden’s “unity” pledge. Using reconciliation will allow Democrats to pass it without any GOP votes as long as every member of the 50-seat Democratic caucus votes for it.
Schumer, speaking from the Senate floor, warned that Democrats would not “dilute, dither or delay” coronavirus relief legislation.
“I would say to my Republican colleagues that we want this important work to be bipartisan. We welcome your ideas, your input, your revisions. We welcome cooperation. There is nothing about the process of a budget resolution or reconciliation, for that matter, that forecloses the possibility of bipartisanship,” Schumer said.