After just ten days in office, newly-inaugurated President Biden might be abandoning his call for unity as he looks to push through the next coronavirus pandemic relief bill through Congress.
“COVID relief has to pass. No ifs, ands, or buts,” Biden told a group of reporters this week, suggesting it may have to do so without any Republican support.
It should be noted that Republicans are not against relief funds being sent to Americans but want the $1.9 trillion relief bill split into smaller pieces that directly address problems.
“We’ve got a lot to do, and the first thing we’ve got to do is get this COVID package passed,” Biden said Thursday, telling a group of reporters that the plan needs to pass as soon as possible.
From the Western Journal:
But as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reportedly lay the foundations to pass Biden’s bill, some Republicans hope that Biden will change course and revert to his earlier calls for a bipartisan plan.
“The president is sincere in his commitment to bipartisanship,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins told Politico. “That’s the way he always operated when he was a senator. And from my conversations with him since the election, it seems clear to me that he wants to continue to operate that way.”
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski similarly cautioned Biden against turning on his calls for uniting and moving forward together.
“I think it would be wise for the new administration to work to try to get a bipartisan proposal,” Murkowski said earlier this week, as the Western Journal reports. “I think that speaks exactly to President Biden’s comments a week ago.”
“He spoke to unity and working together. Well, we’re giving an opportunity to come together on important and timely legislation,” she added.
Despite the cautionary remarks, the Biden administration is looking to push the entire package through Congress as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki clarified it would not be split up.
“We’re open for business and open to hear from members of Congress on that,” Psaki said, adding: “We’re not going to do this in a piecemeal way or break apart a big package that’s meant to address the crisis we’re facing.”
“The president wants this to be a bipartisan package, regardless of the mechanisms,” she added via the Washington Examiner. “Republicans can still vote for a package even if it goes through reconciliation. There’s no blood oath.”
According to the report, a likely outcome for the coronavirus relief bill is that it passes the chamber with the 50 Democrats in the chamber voting for its passage (and any number of Republicans):
To make Biden’s bipartisan wish a reality, the White House has dispatched top aides to warm up senators and secure the 50 Democrats and 10 Republicans that the “American Rescue Plan” needs to pass through Congress.
One possibility is through reconciliation, to which the White House earlier signaled some openness, if necessary.
Democrats hold a bare majority in the Senate and would need every one of their 50 votes to pass the bill under reconciliation if no Republicans joined them. Vice President Kamala Harris could send the measure to Biden’s desk with her 51st tie-breaking vote.