Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said today that he would bring a budget resolution to the Senate floor “as soon as next week.” This would be the starting point for using reconciliation to pass stimulus in the Senate with a simple majority.
However, Republicans are criticizing using reconciliation to pass stimulus measures without them. Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said, “If the House decides to go ahead with the reconciliation approach, which is a way to get around working with Republicans, I think that would be not just a big mistake at this stage at the start of this administration, but irresponsible given what’s happened with the COVID-19 package.
We’re willing to work with them, and we said that on Sunday, we’re willing to sit down and work out again, a proposal that is bipartisan, that can be passed by both chambers, that helps to expand on what we just passed.” And Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said, “I think really it’s going to be the White House and the Democrats’ call as to whether they want to work with a bipartisan team to improve the legislation or whether they want to push through reconciliation, a bill which [comes] with only one party participating.”
While Joe Manchin, of course, Democratic Senator from West Virginia, was bipartisan in his language, “We’re all just working to get a pathway forward. We want to make sure it’s productive and bring everybody together.”
We know that Joe Manchin is opposed to getting rid of the legislative filibuster, and reportedly Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema of Arizona said that she committed to him “that under no circumstances” would she vote to eliminate the filibuster.
That’s super interesting to me. We have McConnell kind of going around Schumer’s back to basically get this kind of commitment from a junior senator, what do you think about that?
Sinema is known as a fairly conservative Democrat, and I honestly don’t think she’s alone in opposing getting rid of the legislative filibuster. Basically to do that, Democrats would need their whole party on board, and with both Manchin and Sinema saying they’re not on board with that, I feel that’s an empty threat.
And, lo and behold, with the Sinema confirmation, today McConnell relented on his demand that Senate Democrats formally commit to retaining the legislative filibuster. So the committee ratios and assignments and all those things we discussed yesterday can now move forward, yay, we can actually get stuff done now in the Senate.
Today Chuck Schumer said on the Senate Floor, “I am glad the Republican leader finally relented and we can move forward now to organize the Senate, set up committees chairs and ranking members, and a process for moving bills and nominees to the floor from committees with an evenly divided number of members. — It’s evenly divided because the Senate is split fifty-fifty — I’m glad we’re finally able to get the Senate up and running.
My only regret is that it took so long.” The text of this power-sharing agreement has not yet been released, but McConnell said it would look something like the agreement from Two Thousand and One which is the last time the Senate was split fifty-fifty.
So we may actually get some legislation done in the Senate now, Janet Yellen was confirmed last night as Treasury Secretary and Antony Blinken was confirmed today as Secretary of State, obviously Biden’s first priority for Congress is to pass his one-point-nine-trillion-dollar stimulus relief bill, but honestly folks, we don’t know how hard Democrats are going to play on this, I think they know that they won’t be able to get a simple majority on lots of the issues in Biden’s plan, maybe some, maybe even the fourteen hundred dollar slash two thousand dollar stimulus checks if they make them more targeted — there was a new report that came out today basically claiming that cutting off the stimulus checks at a seventy-five-thousand-dollar income threshold may be smart — and frankly if Biden and the Dems are willing to make those fourteen hundred dollar slash two thousand dollar stimulus checks more targeted, they can get a simple majority on that through reconciliation, but the devil is of course in the details, how targeted to they want to get?