“I’m not going to let Republican senators stall for the sole purpose of stalling,” Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the incoming Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said on a conference call hosted by the advocacy group Invest in America. He added that his view grew out of his own experience serving as a junior member of the panel during the Great Recession.
“We were told that somehow if you went small, there would be multiple bites at the apple and you’d come back,” Mr. Wyden said. “The fact is in 2009, the Congress didn’t pass another economic relief package after the Recovery Act, and so this has real consequences for people.”
President Biden would no doubt prefer to push his proposal through with bipartisan support to show he is capable of bridging the differences between the two parties. But the White House has been adamant that it will not chop up his plan to try to secure Republican backing and that while the scope could be adjusted, the changes will not be too substantial.
“We have learned from past crises that the risk is not doing too much,” Mr. Biden, who was vice president in 2009, said on Friday at the White House, striking the same theme as Mr. Schumer. “The risk is not doing enough.”
The New Washington
Like Mr. Biden this year, Mr. Obama entered the White House in 2009 optimistic he could cooperate with Republicans, and there had been promising signs in 2008. In the face of a dire economic emergency, congressional Republicans, Democrats and George W. Bush’s administration had worked closely to approve the $700 billion Wall Street bailout and to take other steps to stem the crisis before Mr. Obama took office. Republicans also seemed dispirited by steep election losses in November, suggesting some might be open to cooperation.
But to an extent that was not immediately apparent, top Republicans in the House and Senate quickly decided that their return to power was to remain united against Ms. Obama’s agenda, a stance Republicans later acknowledged.
As a result, the administration and Democratic leaders had to make multiple concessions to ensure the votes of three Republicans and a few moderate Democrats needed to provide the bare minimum of 60 votes to overcome deep Republican opposition to the stimulus package. That meant holding the amount to $787 billion, less than what some economists at the time said was needed, and potentially slowing the recovery.