House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks to reporters during a press conference in Washington on January 7, 2021, the day after the Capitol was occupied by supporters of US President Donald Trump.
Erin Scott | Reuters
Parliament passed a budget resolution on Wednesday, a major step as Democrats pushed for a vote on a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package.
Approving the measure allows Congress to advance the reconciliation that allows Democrats to pass an aid bill without Republican support. The Senate is expected to pass a resolution this week.
The House reflected the party-political divide over the relief plan and passed the resolution with 218-212 votes. Two Democrats voted against while no Republicans supported it.
Once both chambers have passed a resolution, the Democrats will set to work on the bailout they want to pass in the coming weeks. Through reconciliation, the party can avoid the Senate filibuster and pass a law with a simple majority.
However, challenges await us as the Democrats cannot afford a single defect and the rules of reconciliation limit what they can include in a bill. Democrats want to approve a new bailout package before March 14, when a weekly unemployment insurance surcharge of $ 300 for millions of Americans expires.
Congress is expected to draft a bill to reflect President Joe Biden’s framework. His proposal includes $ 1,400 in direct payments for most Americans, $ 400 a week unemployment benefits through September, a $ 20 billion vaccination program, and $ 350 billion in support for state and local governments.
Biden convened a House Democratic caucus meeting and met with the chairmen of the Senate Democratic Committee on Wednesday when he called for the urgency of passing a bailout bill. While party leaders have said they hope to win Republican votes, it seems doubtful that the GOP will support nearly $ 2 trillion in spending.
Senate Democrats would need 10 Republican votes to pass a bill through the regular process. The task seems difficult as a group of GOP senators who had met with the president contradicted his proposal with a $ 618 billion plan.
Despite the gap, Biden said on Wednesday: “I think we’re going to get some Republicans.”
Republicans have questioned the need for spending in Biden’s plan after Congress passed a $ 900 billion aid plan in December. The GOP lawmakers have also criticized their colleagues for pushing the process that enables them to pass a partisan law.
Republicans attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and then managed to get their tax bill passed through reconciliation in 2017.
House Budget Committee chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., Defended the process in a statement after the vote.
“As bipartisan talks continue, today’s adoption of the 2021 budget resolution ensures we have another avenue to pass President Biden’s American bailout,” he said. “The American people cannot wait, and Congress cannot slow our response to this urgent crisis while Republicans decide whether to help or not.”
A Quinnipiac University poll published Wednesday found that more than two-thirds of Americans support the $ 1.9 trillion relief plan, $ 1,400 in direct payments, and a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour. Democrats support the $ 15 floor as part of the proposal, but reconciliation rules may prevent them from including it in the final bill.
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