White House Cites Urgency for Passing Covid-19 Relief: Psaki

Date: 2021-01-29 18:20:25

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said it’s up to congressional leaders to decide on the procedures to use in advancing President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid proposal, but emphasized that it’s important to move swiftly.

Republican lawmakers on Thursday criticized moves by Democrats to fast-track Biden’s plan without their backing. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, part of a group of 16 senators seeking a bipartisan bill, said “it certainly isn’t helpful” to efforts at getting legislation supported by both sides of the aisle.

“A fair question you might ask our GOP or Republican colleagues is why they oppose proposals that have the support of 74% of the American public,” Psaki said at a press briefing Friday. “Even if this bill moves forward through the reconciliation process — again, a parliamentary procedure — it doesn’t mean they can’t vote for it.”

“His main bottom line is that we’re not going to break it apart and the three components to it are pivotal to moving it forward,” Psaki said of Biden.

House and Senate budget panels are preparing to move on fiscal 2021 budget resolutions next week — the first step toward a so-called reconciliation bill, which allows the Senate to proceed on a simple-majority vote basis and avoiding the need for 60 votes to cut debate. Given the chamber’s partisan 50-50 split, most legislation would need at least 10 Republicans to move forward.

Not all of Biden’s plan is likely to qualify for that route as currently proposed. The $160 billion eyed for coronavirus vaccines and testing would likely need to be revised to fit the requirements of having a direct effect on the budget. The proposed minimum-wage hike may also be disqualified for having insufficient budget impact, though incoming Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders has argued that there’s a case for inclusion.

Stimulus checks and jobless benefits, two major components, would be in, while aid for state and local governments would face a high hurdle.

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