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Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on $1.9T bill

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHeatwaves don't lie: Telling the truth about climate change Schumer backing plan to add dental, vision and hearing coverage to Medicare Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting MORE (D-N.Y.) warned Senate Democrats, including centrists who are balking at certain elements of President BidenJoe BidenMilitary must better understand sexual assaults to combat them The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population On The Money: Democrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit | White House confident Congress will raise debt ceiling MORE’s proposal, that failure to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill would be a political disaster.

Schumer, who scored a win earlier this month when all 50 Democrats voted to pass a budget resolution laying the groundwork for the bill, told colleagues on a conference call they need to stay completely unified in the weeks ahead.

“I made a pitch today to our entire caucus and I said that we need to pass this bill. The American people, the American public demands it and everyone is going to have things that they want to see in the bill and we’ll work hard to see if we can get those things in the bill,” he told reporters after holding a call with the Senate Democratic caucus Tuesday.

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“Job No. 1 is to pass the bill. Pass the bill we must. And I have confidence we will do it,” Schumer said after he was asked about the power of centrist Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSinema defends filibuster ahead of Senate voting rights showdown The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population Democrats go down to the wire with Manchin MORE (D-W.Va.), who says he opposes including a provision to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Schumer also has to worry about centrist Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterBiden risks break with progressives on infrastructure Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle MORE (D-Mont.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who have flashed independent streaks.

Tester declined to say Tuesday whether he would support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, explaining he wanted to see if the Senate parliamentarian would approve allowing the provision in a package Democrats plan to pass with a simple majority vote under special budgetary rules.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPortman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting MORE (Maine), a key Republican centrist, said she would be surprised if any Republican colleagues vote for Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue plan.

That means Schumer can’t afford any defections from his caucus.

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Asked what he would do to avoid defections from Manchin and other centrists from the COVID-19 relief bill or some of Biden’s more controversial nominees, such as Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandSenate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior Sanders opposes Biden Interior nominee in procedural vote OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Judge halts Biden pause on new public lands oil leasing | Democrat presses Haaland on oil and gas review | EPA puts additional delay on Trump lead and copper in drinking water rule MORE (D-N.M.), who has been nominated to head the Interior Department, Schumer simply held up his flip phone.

“This is my answer,” he said, holding aloft his old-fashioned cellphone. “I speak to my members all the time and I have a leadership that meets Monday night.”

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“We discuss it out and so far, so far, we’ve had great unity,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of unity and we need to keep it."

“With 50 votes we need our unity and we’re fighting to get it and so far, so good,” he added.

The Senate is evenly split, with each party controlling 50 seats, but Democrats are in the majority because Vice President Harris can cast tie-breaking votes in their favor.

The Biden administration suffered a setback last week when Manchin announced he would oppose Neera TandenNeera TandenBiden's no-drama White House chief Manchin isn't ready to support Democrats passing infrastructure on their own Republicans target Trump critic's role at DOJ MORE, the president’s choice to head the White House budget office, because of criticisms of Senate colleagues she has made on Twitter.