Democrats push ahead on stimulus checks without Republican support

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COVID-19 help could be coming to Americans very soon.

Democrats aren’t waiting for Republicans to act on coronavirus relief.

Although President Joe Biden met with the GOP on Monday to discuss a way forward on a bipartisan plan, the administration has made clear it is unwilling to significantly cut the $1.9 trillion relief package. dollars proposed by the new president. They also said the $619 billion counter-proposal suggested by a group of Republican senators is insufficient.

Lawmakers negotiated for months to pass the second stimulus check, with the CARES Act passed in March and a follow-up relief bill not signed into law until late December. However, the government was divided at the time, with the Republicans controlling the Presidency and the Senate and the Democrats controlling the House.

Now the Democrats control both houses of Congress and the White House. And they are moving full steam ahead to get through the relief they think Americans need, even if they have to do it on a partisan basis.

Democrats prepare to push COVID-19 relief through reconciliation

Democrats don’t need any support from Republicans to pass a coronavirus bill because they have 50 votes in the Senate, plus the vice president who can play the tiebreaker. Normally, 51 votes are not enough to pass a law, because senators can obstruct it, and an obstruction would require 60 votes to defeat. But they can attach legislation to a budget through a process called “reconciliation,” which can be expedited with a simple majority.

This is the plan that Democrats have now made clear they are moving forward. Reports indicate that House and Senate committees are currently working on the text of a relief bill. And since there are strict limits on the types of provisions that can pass this way, as they must be tied to the budget, they are working with Senate Congresswoman Elizabeth MacDonough to ensure that the proposals they include are allowed to pass. reconciliation.

Their goal is to incorporate Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief proposal as much as possible, although some provisions — such as an increase in the federal minimum wage — may have to be left out if the congressman determines they are. have no significant impact on federal spending. And they want the process done quickly, with legislation passed no later than March 14.

That is likely to disappoint moderate Republicans and perhaps even some centrist Democrats who hoped lawmakers could find a compromise on a bipartisan basis. Still, some on the left fear that if they don’t act quickly because they’re waiting for the GOP to reach a deal, they’ll lose the opportunity to deliver for the American people.

Many also argue that since Republicans used reconciliation to pass their tax legislation in an effort to repeal Obamacare, the Biden administration is justified in using the same process on its priorities. And Democrats have suggested that those on the right who want to pass stimulus would be welcome to vote yes on the reconciliation bill passed (although that’s highly unlikely).

However, Americans may not care much about procedural wrangling. Ultimately, many will just be happy to see a $1,400 check deposited in their bank account in mid-March if Democrats can pull it off.

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