Democrats are moving now to fast-track a Covid-19 relief package. If Republicans want to come along, great. Democrats are arguing Republicans can vote for budget reconciliation, a procedural shortcut that would allow Democrats to pass the relief without any GOP votes.
If Republicans don’t like the plan, they can keep talking to the White House, but the underlying takeaway from the meeting last night – and all the messages from the White House in the days before that – is the President is only willing to negotiate so much.
Republicans’ $618 billion proposal with no state and local funding is not going to cut it. Period. The end.
Bottom line: Biden has the House. Biden has the Senate. He has a procedural process that gives him the chance that pass a $1.9 trillion relief package with just Democratic votes and conveniently, it’s a process that Republicans used just four years ago to jam through a tax plan and try to repeal Obamacare. Democrats are making a two-pronged calculation:
- 1. That they aren’t doing anything Republicans haven’t done
- 2. Their plan is going to be popular with voters and no one is going to care how they got there
We will see on the second point, but when you are talking about giving people direct checks, expanding unemployment insurance, giving people more money to buy food and raising the minimum wage to $15, you aren’t talking about unpopular ideas. Democratic aides tell CNN over and over again this isn’t repealing Obamacare. They are giving people something, not taking something away and that’s emboldened members to act swiftly and decisively and not give in to talk that they have to unify the country by bringing Republicans onboard with a plan.
That doesn’t mean that the impact this could have on the debt and deficit isn’t real. That doesn’t mean that Republicans aren’t going to argue that this plan isn’t needed. It’s true that there is still billions from the last package that hasn’t gone out the door. Many Republicans argue it’s irresponsible to spend more when you don’t even know what you need. Those are arguments they can make to the public. But, Democrats are feeling confident that they can win that public fight.
A bit on the mechanics: One Democratic aide familiar with the Senate’s process tells me that the plan is for the House and Senate Committees to work in coordination over the next week and a half to hammer out legislative text. Throughout the drafting, Democrats in the Senate will be consulting with the Senate parliamentarian to make sure their plans are actually allowed under the rules that govern reconciliation. The House will vote to pass the plan first. Then, the Senate will move.
Before the Senate goes to the floor, they will engage in multiple meetings with Senate Republican staff and the Senate parliamentarian on the merits of each provision they want included and whether the provisions meets the strict rules of what can be allowed through reconciliation. The fight over the minimum wage is expected to be a massive one here, but there will be others as well. This process happens in private over several meetings, but it’s crucial to determining the scope of what Democrats can do.