U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) answers questions as she holds her weekly press conference with Capitol Hill reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 28, 2021.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
The House will press ahead with the process next week that would allow Democrats to pass coronavirus support law without Republican support, spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.
The California Democrat said her chamber would pass a budget resolution, the first step in approving laws through reconciliation. The process would allow Senate Democrats to approve a relief effort with no GOP votes.
Pelosi said the house plans to pass a resolution and send it through the Capitol, where the Senate also needs to pass a budget measure. She expects that “the budget resolution will be finalized by the end of the week”.
The spokeswoman hopes the Democrats can continue to win GOP support for President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion bailout while the White House holds talks with bipartisan lawmakers. But the House wants to prepare for the fact that the Democrats don’t win over Republicans, who are skeptical of the price.
“We have to be ready,” she said.
Earlier Thursday, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., signaled that the chamber would also soon pass a budget resolution. He said the Senate “will begin examining a very strong Covid relief bill as early as next week.”
Democrats have urged more money to accelerate Covid-19 vaccination efforts and prop up households and businesses as a slowing but devastating virus tide battles the economy. While the US has regained ground after a drubbing earlier last year, more than 18 million people are still receiving unemployment benefits as public health restrictions remain.
Programs that send $ 300 more per week to unemployed Americans and expand unemployment benefits to the self-employed, contract and gig workers will expire on March 14th.
Biden’s plan would send another direct payment of $ 1,400 to most Americans, add a weekly unemployment benefit of $ 400 through September, and provide $ 70 billion for Covid-19 testing and vaccine distribution, among other things.
While some Republicans have recognized the need for funds to expedite vaccination or have advocated further stimulus testing, many GOP lawmakers have criticized the size of the direct payments or the $ 350 billion in state and local state aid in Biden’s plan.
The President said he would like to see how talks with Republicans develop before advocating the reconciliation process. Biden’s top economic adviser Brian Deese and Covid’s response coordinator Jeff Zients will join a Senate Democratic caucus call on Thursday as the party decides how to proceed, according to NBC News.
Biden administration officials have met with non-partisan groups in both the Senate and the House of Representatives about the proposal. Biden also spoke to GOP Sens. Susan Collins from Maine and Rob Portman from Ohio, although it is unclear whether they discussed the relief package, according to NBC News.
In a statement Thursday, Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said that “without acting swiftly, you risk a prolonged economic crisis that will make it difficult for Americans to get back to work and get back on their feet.”
Senate Budgets Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Has urged his party not to delay the reconciliation.
“If the Democrats are to tackle the enormous crises of the working population and stick to the election promises we have made, we must aggressively advance the reconciliation process in the Senate. There is no alternative,” he said in a tweet on Thursday. “Now is the time for bold action.”
Senator Joe Manchin, DW.V., wants his party to make real efforts to reach a bipartisan deal before a bill is passed through reconciliation, NBC reported. He is one of the centrist Democrats who has raised concerns about the cost of Biden’s plan and could prevent it from getting through the Senate himself.
The house is split 50:50 by the party, but the Democrats hold a majority with Vice President Kamala Harris’s runoff election.
The budget vote process also limits what Congress can put into legislation, so it is unclear whether Democrats could fit all of their policy goals into a bill that could be passed by a majority.
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