Democrats Speed Ahead on Economic Aid Package

Democrats are taking steps to erupt President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue plan, employing a budgetary maneuver that would eventually allow the measure to become law without Republican support.

The move advanced the two-track strategy that Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders are employing to hurry the help package through Congress: show Republicans that they need the votes to pass an ambitious spending bill with only Democratic backing, but offer to barter some details in hopes of gaining Republican support.

“We are not going to dilute, dither or delay,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of new York and the majority leader, said on the Senate floor. “There’s nothing about the process itself that prevents bipartisanship.”

The party-line vote of 50 to 49 set the stage for Democrats to advance Mr. Biden’s plan through budget reconciliation, which might allow it to pass with an easy majority vote, bypassing the necessity for Republican support. (Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, was absent and didn't vote because he was delayed by snow.)

Mr. Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen met virtually with Senate Democrats at their lunch on Tuesday afternoon.

On the decision , Mr. Biden “spoke about the need for Congress to respond boldly and quickly,” Mr. Schumer said afterward. “He was very strong in emphasizing the need for a big bold package. He said he told Senate Republicans that the $600 billion that they propose was way too small.”

While Mr. Biden said he told Republicans he was willing to form some modifications to his proposal, he and Ms. Yellen told the group that if the Senate embraced the Republican plan, “we’d be mired in the Covid crisis for years,” according to Mr. Schumer.

Senate Democrats could approve the budget resolution as soon as Friday. On Tuesday, a key Democratic senator announced he would support it: Joe Manchin III of West Virginia , who may be a crucial swing vote, said he would comply with the budget process “because we must address the urgency of the Covid-19 crisis.”

“But let me be clear — and these are words I shared with President Biden — our focus must be targeted on the Covid-19 crisis and Americans who have been most impacted by this pandemic,” Mr. Manchin said in a statement, signaling he might still vote against aspects of Mr. Biden’s plan that he opposes. “I will only support proposals that will get us through and end the pain of this pandemic.”

Mr. Manchin also reiterated his opposition to Mr. Biden’s proposal to boost the federal wage to $15 an hour, which could force Democrats to drop it from their legislative package.

Dr. Dhillon Randeep

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