President-elect Joe Biden is finalizing his proposal for covid relief package, with aides briefing congressional staff on Tuesday. He was signaling that the measure would be designed to gain bipartisan support.
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It is expected that the budget, which Biden plans to unveil, would include $2,000 in stimulus grants, an extension of increased unemployment benefits, funds for distribution and delivery of vaccines, support for cities, states, colleges, child care, and more.
Instead of trying to ram a package through without their help, President-elect Joe Biden will pursue an agreement with Republicans on another round of covid relief package, according to two individuals familiar with the matter.
A smaller initial package that contains specific priorities preferred by Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell may be the approach. The idea is to neglect to use a unique budget mechanism that would eliminate the need for at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to get help, divided 50-50 and under Democratic control only by the vote of the vice president.
President-elect Joe Biden has spent months promising to collaborate to advance his platform with Republicans. Senate Democrats are now gearing up without them to approve Biden's first big legislative covid relief package.
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On Tuesday, Biden transition staff briefed aides to Congressional Democrats on the efforts to partner with the GOP and not in an original stimulus package to use so-called budget reconciliation.
A day after former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle urged his party to send "reasons to be cooperative" to McConnell, which would unlock more extraordinary legislative achievements, the briefing came.
Earlier Tuesday, new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer assured his Democratic colleagues that the covid relief package legislation would be his top priority after his caucus assumes power. He highlighted raising direct payments from the $600 enacted in December to $2,000 for most Americans, additional funding for the delivery of vaccinations, and assistance for small businesses, families, teachers, and state and local governments.
Biden has repeatedly said that upon taking office on Jan. 20, passing a coronavirus relief and economic stimulus package would be his No. 1 priority. "In a letter to colleagues on Tuesday, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the incoming majority leader, made the same case, identifying a relief bill as "our first order of legislative business" once the new Senate is formed and Kamala D. Harris is sworn in as vice president, handing the control of the Chamber to the Democrats.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who, like the Senate Budget Committee's current head, will be a crucial figure for Biden in crafting reconciliation legislation, vowed on Tuesday to use the practical procedure to resolve the urgent health and economic crisis at hand.
Via reconciliation, passing the covid relief package would allow Democrats to entirely circumvent Republicans and pass the bill with just 50 votes, plus Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker, rather than 60. Some Senate aides stressed that it would allow the Chamber to move faster without spending time onboard coaxing Republicans or giving them a chance to run out of the clock.