The Lead: The Coming Stimulus Battle
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
President Biden’s Covid relief bill has an uphill battle to pass congress. This is the plan that involves $1,400 in direct payments plus $400 per week in extra unemployment.
Even though the Democrats have a majority in both chambers, not all Democrats are on board yet. Republicans have expressed willingness to negotiate a new package but have expressed concern with the cost and the debt it will put on the nation.
Clock is ticking
Current unemployment will expire in March. For President Biden to pass his plan by then, he will need all of his allies and some across the aisle, which he doesn’t have yet.
A pesky thing called impeachment
The impeachment trial of former President Trump will not help. This could sour many Republicans against Democrats, even though many Republicans have shown an appetite to convict. It will also take up time and money and national attention. President Biden may have to break his bill into smaller pieces in order to get relief to the American people or he can revert to a process called reconciliation, which would only require 50 votes for passage of a law.
It would not be unprecedented for President Biden to use reconciliation. Former Presidents George W Bush, Trump, and Obama used this tactic to pass legislation such as tax cuts and part of the Affordable Care Act.