Senate vote clears path for Biden's stimulus plan to be pushed through reconciliation

Denitsa Tsekova
·Reporter
·3 min read

While President Joe Biden continues to discuss a stimulus deal with Republicans, Democrats are readying a procedure that would allow them to pass much of the legislation without any Republican votes.

The Senate passed a procedural motion with a 50-49 vote to move forward with a budget resolution, clearing the way for passing many provisions included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package through reconciliation on Tuesday.

Read more: Here's what to do if you haven't gotten your stimulus check

“Joe Biden is totally on board with using reconciliation,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said at a press conference before the vote on Tuesday. “I've been talking to him every day. Our staffs have been talking multiple times a day.”

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 2: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a press conference after a meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on February 2, 2021 in Washington, DC. On Tuesday afternoon the Senate is voting on nominations for President Joe Biden's cabinet, including Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of Transportation nominee Pete Buttigieg. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a press conference after a meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on February 2, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The reconciliation process is a budget rule that would allow Democrats to pass some relief provisions with a simple majority of 51 votes and would not require support from GOP senators.

Both the House and the Senate budget committees would write the budget resolution. The Senate has limited time to debate it and there’s no filibuster once that process ends. While the debate is limited, the resolution could be further delayed by a “vote-rama” that allows lawmakers to make endless amendments to the resolution.

Read more: Here's what's in Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion 'rescue plan' that could help your wallet

But in a 50-50 Senate, Democrats would need all their votes to pass the reconciliation bill plus the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. But not all Democratic lawmakers prefer this process. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said that he would support the advancement of the budget resolution, but is “hopeful that we can have bipartisan support moving forward.”

“I will vote to move forward with the budget process because we must address the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis,” Manchin said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”

‘Will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment’

It is unclear whether all provisions could be passed through reconciliation. To do so, the resolution must include items that affect the overall spending or revenue of the federal government. While some provisions — like the $1,400 stimulus payments and expanded and extended unemployment benefits — could easily qualify for the reconciliation process, others like the $15 minimum wage may not.

“Where you are starting to get into problems is when you do things like trying to raise the minimum wage because that does not have a budgetary impact on the federal government,” Mark Harkins, a former congressional staffer and senior fellow at Georgetown’s Government Affairs Institute, told Yahoo Money.

The beginning of the reconciliation process comes a day after a group of 10 Republican senators unveiled a scaled-down $618 billion stimulus proposal and met with President Biden to discuss the proposal.

Read more: Here's who qualifies for the extra $100 in weekly unemployment benefits

“The president expressed his hope that the group could continue to discuss ways to strengthen the American Rescue Plan as it moves forward,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement after the meeting on Monday. “He reiterated, however, that he will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”

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Denitsa is a writer for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova.

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