Look Out: Democrats Might Actually Act Like A Majority

President Joe Biden (D).

As CNN reports, Democrats in Washington are moving ahead with a plan to pass a comprehensive $1.9 trillion economic relief package via the budget reconciliation process, after a meeting between President Joe Biden and Senate Republicans to discuss their tiny fraction of a relief bill by comparison failed to impress:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said President Joe Biden told Senate Democrats at lunch Tuesday that he wants a “big, bold package” on Covid-19 relief and that he told Senate Republicans that their $600 billion proposal is “way too small.”

It was a point White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated during her briefing — there are certain “bottom lines” that Biden wants to be in the next round of Covid-19 relief, including direct payments reaching more Americans than what the Republican proposal would include.

“His view is that at this point in our country, when 1-in-7 American families don’t have enough food to eat, we need to make sure people get the relief they need and are not left behind,” Psaki said.

Bloomberg:

While the 10 senators who participated described the meeting as “excellent” with “a very productive exchange of views,” in a joint statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had emphasized that Congress had to act urgently and “boldly” and had pointed out many areas of disagreement with the Republicans…

While Biden “is hopeful” that what he calls the American Rescue Plan “can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end,” Psaki said. Using reconciliation, Democrats could potentially pass the bill in the Senate with only their 50 votes plus that of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Meanwhile, one of the more worrisome members of the Democratic coalition, “ConservaDem” Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, says he won’t oppose moving forward without Republicans:

“I will vote to move forward with the budget process because we must address the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis,” Manchin said. “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.” Manchin also signaled his opposition to using budget reconciliation for non-emergency measures: “I will only support proposals that will get us through and end the pain of this pandemic,” he said.

President Biden’s meeting with Senate Republicans yesterday caused some upset with Democrats under pressure from their base to maximize the value of their tenuous 50 seat+1 majority in the U.S. Senate. But once again, Republicans self-sabotaged by coming to the table with a proposal so inadequate to addressing the need there was simply no point in trying to negotiate from it.

For anyone who follows the state of Colorado’s perennially fraught TABOR-constrained budget issues–and that should be more of you even though we know it’s not–the difference between the Republicans’ $600 billion relief proposal and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan literally represents the difference between fiscal continuity and fiscal calamity. The $350 billion in Biden’s proposal is a lifeline to state and local governments whose revenues have been slashed during the pandemic even as demand for the services local governments are responsible for providing exploded.

With Republicans not putting forward even remotely serious counterproposals and Americans increasingly desperate for economic aid to get through what everyone hopes is the latter stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time for Democrats to stop trying to bargain with Republicans to pass legislation they have the power to pass without them–and it seems as though they get that. After Republicans exploited their only slightly less narrow majority in the U.S. Senate for six years to generationally tilt the U.S. Supreme Court, Democrats should feel no political apprehension whatsoever in exercising their 50+1 majority power to get the most money possible to Americans who need it.

Who knows? If Democrats start acting like they know how to lead, voters might even reward their leadership.

5 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. High Valley Lurker says:

    Biden needs to raise the Republicans. They know they are playing a weak hand. The Republicans just pushed a very weak call into the table. Raise them. Go back a $3 trillion plan like the one the House passed.

    If Biden wants, bi-partisanship, then such a move might bring the Republicans back to accepting Biden’s weaker $1.9 billion plan. Personally, I think Biden is better off with bigger and bolder help that also includes the $2k checks he promised GA. Biden would look better 2 years from now if he does that now. But, either way, raising the Republicans now makes both options available to Biden.

    • High Valley Lurker says:

      And, if Biden and the Dems don’t deliver on the $2k checks that Biden promised voters in GA, then they put the GA Senate seat up at risk. Warnock has to run again in 2022, and he only won in a close election.

      Biden likes to say he’s working class, so surely he understands that first promising people $2k, and then stiffing them on it is not the way to win friends. The Senate might be one seat tougher to hold onto in ’22 if Biden and the Dems don’t deliver on those $2k checks. People will remember if they don’t.

      And, it would not surprise me if an old pol like McConnell is very aware of that.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        Great news:  The Senate Ag Committee welcomes Senators Warnock and Booker to their ranks.  This marks the first time in history two African-Americans will serve simultaneously on the panel. They are the second and third African-Americans to ever serve on the Senate Ag Committee. 

         

      • JohnInDenver says:

        Hey, High Valley Lurker …

        Just a reminder that Warnock won, in a state that

         * never had a Black Senator, and

         * had not elected a Democratic senator for 15 years,

         * was widely seen as disenfranchising Black and poor Georgians,

         * had a general (November) election with 70,000 MORE votes for Republicans than Democrats,

         * extended to a run-off (which previously were elections with HUGE drop offs in Democratic voting),

         * had him beat an incumbent (tough to do) by almost 95,000 votes, a rounded off 2% victory. 

        In 2022, with 2 years as an incumbent, with (probably) a popular Black running for Governor, and (probably) some sort of partisan sniping or skirmishing among Republicans, I think Warnock has at least a break-even chance for re-election.

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    As of a couple of days ago, 22 state (and other jurisdictions) have unemployment systems that borrowed $48,428,827,046.  Recent months have increases of about $8T each month, I can't find any mention of how soon other jurisdictions will be joining the debtors club or how much they will add to the increase.  And that is just ONE of the several categories of state and local expenditures going up.

    Somehow, the $360 billion for state and local governments doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

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