President Biden is faced with a choice – unity or expediency, and his choice seems clear.
“I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But the COVID relief has to pass — no ifs, ands or buts”President Joe Biden – Friday, January 29, 2021
Meanwhile, house Democrats and President Biden have prepared a $1.9 Trillion spending bill disguised as “COVID relief” as their first big spending bill.
- $15/hour national minimum wage
- $350 Billion in bailouts to states that have self-imposed budget deficits due to their COVID response (bailing out NY, CA, NJ, etc)
- $170 Billion to schools (they have been paid the whole time for doing nothing, shouldn’t they have saved money?)
- Funds the hiring of 100,000 “public health workers,” nearly tripling the community health workforce (whatever that means)
- Subsidies for health insurance premiums – capping premiums at no more than 8.5% of ones income
- $1400 direct payments to individuals
- 14 weeks paid sick leave for anyone sick OR quarantining
- $400/week extra unemployment through Sept 2021
- 15% increase to food stamps
House Republicans have not even been asked to participate in the formulation of this bill.
In fact, at least one prominent Democrat Senator (Joe Manchin, D-WV) had no idea:
“I couldn’t believe it. No one called me… We’re going to try to find a bipartisan pathway forward, I think we need to do. But we need to work together. That’s not a way of working together.”Joe Manchin, D-WV
Now, appealing to “bipartisanship and unity,” a group of GOP senators wrote to President Joe Biden on Sunday to request a meeting where they could provide a counter-offer to his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal.
“In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support,” ten GOP senators told Biden in the letter. “Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support. We request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our proposal in greater detail and how we can work together to meet the needs of the American people during this persistent pandemic.”
The Biden administration has sent a clear signal that “unity” may not be on the table, because it’s common knowledge in DC that negotiations would obviously take days, and President Biden is “uncompromising when it comes to the speed we need to act at to address this crisis.”
Brian Deese, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, confirmed on “State of the Union” on Sunday that the White House had received the letter and said they would be “reviewing it over the course of the day.”
“We’ve received the letter and we certainly will be reviewing it over the course of the day,” Deese said. “What I will say is that the provisions of the President’s plan, the American Rescue plan, were calibrated to the economic crisis that we face.”
The President, he added, is “uncompromising when it comes to the speed we need to act at to address this crisis.“
This is made even more clear by the fact that the Democrats are already preparing the necessary steps to force the bill through via the “budget reconciliation” process without a single Republican vote needed.
Bernie Sanders “said that Democrats will use the move to pass the package by 51 votes in the Senate, rather than 60, if Republicans don’t move the legislation.”
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is also pushing for passing the bill without any Republican input:
After Thursday’s call with White House officials, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) said:
“there’s a strong consensus to make it a big legislative proposal”
“[reconciliation] is the best way to get this done in a robust way”
“If negotiations drag out, it keeps getting smaller — that’s a problem.”
Update 1/31/20 5:00pm:
Chuck Schumer told the New York Daily News that Republicans should “negotiate with us” instead of making “a take-it-or-leave-it offer.”
That’s really weird, considering that’s what he was doing when he clarified his “a take-it-or-leave-it offer” just 30 seconds later:
“President Biden believes, and I agree with him, we need a bold, strong action. Now, we’d like to do that with the Republicans, but if we can’t, we’ll have to go forward on our own using this process, reconciliation”– Chuck Schumer, January 31, 2021
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, urged Democrats to stop worrying about reaching a bipartisan deal, tweeting: “Regular people don’t care whether we pass something with 51 or 60 votes.
“It’s a pandemic and the largest economic contraction in 90 years,” he added. “We must ignore those who call anything a Republican proposes a compromise, and anything a Democrat proposes partisan. We have to deliver.”
But wait, there’s more!
Bernie Sanders says “We’ll do the bipartisan thing next time, pinky swear!”
In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Democrats are more likely to work with Republicans in a bipartisan manner on other legislative ventures rather than dramatically alter course on the Covid-19 relief proposal.
“We all want bipartisanship. And I think you’re going to see more of it as we move down the pipe,” he said, pointing to infrastructure and lowering the cost of prescription drugs. “We are going to look forward to working with Republicans. But right now, this country faces an unprecedented set of crises.
“We have families who are watching this program right now who cannot feed their kids,” he said. “We have millions of people who face eviction. We are in the midst of the worst pandemic in 100 years. We have got to act, and we have got to act now.”(Source: https://abcnews.go.com/amp/Politics/passing-coronavirus-relief-important-bipartisanship-sen-bernie-sanders/story?id=75583108)
For some reason, this seems like the antithesis of unity and bipartisanship.
This time, their excuse is that they don’t have time to negotiate, because this is an emergency. It’s the same excuse they’ve used many times before, and it’s the same excuse they’ll use next time.
President Unity could change that and demand bipartisanship, if he really wanted that.