On COVID relief, Republicans are planning to run their ACA playbook — i.e. dangle the theoretical possibility of compromise that will never materialize. Fortunately, the reaction of the Dem Senate leadership this time is “offer concrete, viable asks now or fuck you we’re using reconciliation”:
Republicans complained that Democratic leaders’ forceful reconciliation approach would only serve to short-circuit Biden’s bipartisan effort too soon.
“That would be a big mistake this early on. And I think they ought to attempt to try to do it the other way,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota. [LOL — ed.]
If they can keep party unity, Democrats can approve coronavirus legislation without GOP support via budget reconciliation. And Schumer gave some of his strongest indications yet that this could happen soon, starting with passage of a budget resolution that unlocks reconciliation’s power.
“The Senate, as early as next week, will begin the process of considering a very strong Covid relief bill. Our preference is to make this important work bipartisan, to include input, ideas and revisions from our Republican colleagues,” Schumer said. “But if our Republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation, we will have to move forward without them.”
Schumer also said that slashing the package in a major way isn’t going to happen, contending that “to cut things dramatically at a time when the economy needs a boost would be irresponsible.”
Pelosi later expanded on that timeline, telling reporters that the House will return next week to pass a budget resolution. That measure will then be sent to the Senate, likely amended, and return to the House by the end of the week.
House Democratic leaders announced further changes to the chambers’ calendar earlier this week to allow the reconciliation process to advance with the goal of getting a bill passed before unemployment benefits expire in mid-March.
The chances of getting 10 Republican votes in the Senate for any decent package are essentially non-existent, and apart from pro forma offers of compromises to show there was never any serious chance of a bipartisan deal Dems need to just plow ahead — as it appears that they’re doing.