Biden sets aside bipartisanship on COVID-19 relief
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 2/05/21, 05:58 pm
Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate on Friday. By a vote of 51-50, Democrats executed a procedural move that will allow them to adopt President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief proposal as a part of the budget reconciliation process. The House approved it Friday afternoon. That means the final stimulus bill can eventually pass in the Senate with just a simple majority instead of the 60 votes typically needed to end a filibuster and bring a bill up for a vote. Democrats say they want to enact the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan by mid-March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid is set to expire.
Wasn’t Biden going to work with Republicans on this bill? The president met on Monday with 10 GOP senators who pitched a $618 billion alternative. He said in a speech on Friday that aid at that level would only prolong the economic pain. Some economic analysts—most notably Larry Summers, who served as treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton—said the pandemic’s economic conditions are bad, but not bad enough to justify the extreme price tag of Biden’s proposal.
Dig deeper: Read Joel Belz’s commentary on Biden’s big-spending ways.
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