Tomorrow, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign her Senate seat, two days before she will be sworn in as Vice President of the United States. Governor of California Gavin Newsom has appointed current California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Harris’s Senate seat.
In terms of stimulus news, we have Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts praising President-elect Joe Biden’s stimulus plan but stating that Congress must still pass his legislation with Senator Bernie Sanders to provide two-thousand-dollar-a-month stimulus payments to working people throughout the duration of the pandemic. Speaking of Biden, yesterday Biden’s incoming chief of staff Ron Klain released a memo outlining what Joe Biden wants to accomplish within his first ten days in office through executive action.
The four crises that Biden wants to address through these executive actions are the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and the racial equity crisis. Klain said, “These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises. President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”
In three days, on Inauguration Day, this Wednesday, Joe Biden will ask the Department of Education to extend the pause on student loan payments and interest on federal student loans, rejoin the Paris climate accord that the United States withdrew from in November Twenty-Nineteen, and end the Trump travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries.
Also on Inauguration Day, Biden will also mandate masks to be worn on federal property and while traveling interstate. Biden will also extend the pause on evictions and foreclosures. The following day, Thursday, Biden will sign a number of executive actions to move aggressively to change the course of the COVID-19 crisis and safely re-open schools and businesses, including by taking action to mitigate spread through expanding testing, protecting workers, and establishing clear public health standards.
And then on Friday, Klain said that Biden will direct his Cabinet agencies to take immediate action to deliver economic relief to working families bearing the brunt of this crisis. Then, next week, Biden will sign additional executive actions pertaining to Buy America, advancing equity and supporting underserved communities, reforming the nation’s criminal justice system, addressing climate change, expanding access to healthcare, and reforming our immigration system including reuniting families separated at the border.
Klain notes that this list is not comprehensive and are just the start of the work that the Biden administration has to do, not the least of which, of course, is his stimulus proposal, speaking of which many Republican members of Congress, including Senator Pat Toomey and Representative Kevin Brady, have already called Biden’s stimulus plan a nonstarter.
Let’s face it, it’s going to be tough for Biden to get the ten, eleven Republicans he’ll need to get another one-point-nine-trillion-dollar stimulus bill through the Senate. Could he go the reconciliation route to pass some items, reconciliation meaning that bills related to spending, taxing, and the federal debt limit would only need a simple majority vote in the Senate?
I mean, stimulus checks would certainly qualify. That’s an option of course, but it sounds like that’s Biden’s first choice, he has said that he wants to work in a bipartisan manner to get things done. And proceeding in this shortcut manner could very well turn off Republican senators from participating, meaning that Biden would need a full fifty Democrats, all Democrats in the Senate, to go along with such a thing.
And who may very well be a stick in the mud on that? Joe Manchin, watch my video on Joe Manchin from last week if you missed it. And remember, with reconciliation, you only get one shot, it’s not like you can keep on doing reconciliation bill after reconciliation bill, you get one reconciliation bill a year on spending.