by Christy Bieber | Jan. 29, 2021
More stimulus money could be coming very soon.
Even before being sworn into office, President Joe Biden put forth a plan to provide coronavirus relief. His $1.9 trillion proposal includes $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans, as well as additional unemployment benefits and money for vaccine distribution.
The Biden administration and some centrist Democrats are hoping to earn support for their bill from Republicans so the legislation can pass on a bipartisan basis. However, this plan is running into resistance from the right. And after Democrats campaigned on providing swift relief, some party leaders on the left have made clear they won't wait through a lengthy negotiation.
In fact, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated in a recent Senate speech that the party plans to move forward on the next coronavirus relief package right away -- even without help from colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
Democrats are united in their belief that Americans need more financial help quickly to cope with the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden has repeatedly urged a bipartisan approach and his top economic advisors have indicated a willingness to tweak their proposal in response to Republican criticism. However, the president has also made it clear he believes "time is of the essence," when it comes to passing a bill.
Democrats can choose to move forward without any buy-in from the other side of the aisle, but will need to use a process called "reconciliation" to act without Republican support. That's because they have just 50 votes in the Senate but would need 60 to overcome a filibuster that prevents legislation from moving forward. With reconciliation, they can have Vice President Kamala Harris serve as their 51st vote and pass legislation with only a bare majority.
Biden has indicated it will be up to the House and Senate whether to move a bill through the reconciliation process. Key figures on the left now say they lean toward using this procedural maneuver to move a stimulus bill without delay.
Schumer told colleagues in a caucus call on Tuesday that they should prepare for a vote on a budget resolution to tee up the reconciliation process next week. John Yarmuth, a Democratic representative and chairman of the House Budget Committee also confirmed that the House is "prepared to go to the floor as early as next week with the reconciliation approach."
This is optimistic news for Americans hoping to get another COVID-19 check in their bank accounts soon. However, it's not yet clear whether reconciliation is a sure thing. Some centrist Democrats think it would be a mistake to use this approach at this point in time. Others have voiced concerns over specific aspects of Biden's proposal.
Democrats couldn't afford to lose a single vote from their side of the aisle if Republicans remain united in opposition, so the House and Senate leaders need to ensure they have unified support. Party leaders undoubtedly know this and will be making sure to count their votes before acting on their promise to move to reconciliation next week.
Odds are good that some version of Biden's plan will find its way into a timely bill, though. If it does, Americans will soon see more coronavirus money.
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