President-elect Joe Biden spoke about the protests in and around the US Capitol in Washington at a press conference at his interim headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, Jan. The U.S. Congress held a joint session to confirm the 2020 election results. 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President-elect Joe Biden faces a number of pitfalls when trying to get his coronavirus relief plan through Congress.
The Democrat will announce his aid proposal on Thursday and advocate it in a prime-time speech scheduled for 7.15 p.m. It is expected to give Americans more direct money, an expansion of supplemental unemployment insurance, state and local relief efforts, and Covid-19 vaccine distribution funds, among other goals in a plan that Biden said could cost “trillions”.
His call for new aid comes as a raging pandemic that killed a record 4,327 Americans on Tuesday and battled the US economy. The first jobless claims rose last week to 965,000, the highest level since the end of August, the Ministry of Labor said on Thursday.
- Democrats will have a slim majority in the house and may need Republican support to get a bill passed.
- Biden’s party will control the Senate later this month but will need 10 GOP votes to approve the legislation unless it opts on an instrument that requires a majority. The chamber must also devote its limited time to the impeachment process and the confirmation of Biden’s cabinet.
- West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was skeptical about $ 2,000 in direct payments, a Biden priority, because of the cost. But GOP Sens. Josh Hawley from Missouri and Marco Rubio from Florida supported the proposal.
- While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., And many in his party oppose state and local government aid, several Senate Republicans have joined the Democrats in support of the aid.
Biden said containing the virus and stimulating the economy will be his top priority after taking office on Jan. 20. He has to navigate a political mess that includes the GOP’s opposition to more spending and an impending impeachment trial of President Donald Trump after last week’s US Capitol attack to get a relief plan through Congress.
Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Biden’s Democratic Party control the house. Democrats will get a narrow Senate majority this month if elected Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia are sworn in. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will cast a decisive vote in the Senate between 50 and 50.
The slim democratic majorities in both chambers could give Biden a headache.
The House can pass bills with a simple majority of 218 votes in a full chamber. Democrats now hold 222 seats. However, the number will temporarily drop to 219 when three Democrats – Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, Marcia Fudge of Ohio and Deb Haaland of New Mexico – join the Biden government.
It will leave Democrats little margin for error when passing legislation. The party must either win the support of all of its members or get Republican votes to approve a coronavirus aid package.
Biden wants to finalize his relief plan with the support of both parties, a person familiar with the CNBC confirmed deliberations of the transition team. Support for the GOP could prove even more important in the Senate. A bill would need the support of all Democrats and 10 Republicans, unless the Democrats opt to use a process called budget balancing to pass by a majority.
Using the process could limit what Democrats can put into a bill as it only applies to revenue and expenditure measures. Legislation approval through reconciliation could also take longer.
In addition, the Senate must decide how much time it can spend on pandemic relief as it considers whether to convict Trump of inciting a riot and confirm Biden’s cabinet. McConnell said Wednesday that he would begin the president’s trial no earlier than Tuesday, the day before Biden’s inauguration. Trump’s first impeachment trial last year took about three weeks.
In a statement on Wednesday, Biden said he hoped the Senate could handle all of these responsibilities at the same time.
“This nation remains gripped by a deadly virus and a volatile economy,” he said after the House indicted Trump. “I hope the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their constitutional impeachment responsibilities while working on the nation’s other pressing issues.”
Make-or-break discharge provisions
Congress approved a bipartisan $ 900 billion relief plan last month. Biden called it a “deposit”.
Congressional Democrats said it didn’t go far enough to help unemployed Americans struggling to find food and housing. But many Republicans won’t want to spend more federal money soon after the vote on the final package.
The bill, passed about months after the financial lifelines for individuals and businesses collapsed in the summer pandemic, included a $ 300 weekly increase in unemployment insurance through mid-March. It extended the expansion of unemployment benefits in the pandemic.
Most Americans received payments of $ 600 plus the same amount for each child. In addition, more than $ 300 billion was spent on helping small businesses, more than $ 8 billion on vaccine distribution, and $ 25 billion on rental assistance.
Biden is expected to request checks for $ 2,000 as part of his plan. He will also call for extending unemployment assistance in the pandemic, sending more relief to state and local governments, and pouring more money into the country’s lackluster efforts to distribute Covid-19 vaccines. A Biden proposal may also include funding for schools and small businesses, as well as extending the tax credit for children.
The Democratic House passed a bill in December to increase payments in the year-end package to $ 2,000. Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Senate Minority, DN.Y., considers sending more money to Americans a top priority when his party takes control of the chamber.
“The Democrats wanted to do a lot more in the last bill and promised to do more when the opportunity arises to increase direct payments to a total of $ 2,000 – we will do that,” he wrote in a letter to the Senate Democrats on Tuesday.
“We will also continue to support vaccine distribution efforts and help American families, small businesses, schools, and state and local governments. Once the new Senate is organized and Vice President Harris is sworn in, we will immediately get to work on that goal.” , he continued.
Democrats must balance a difficult political dynamic to get a bill through Congress as Republicans have signaled a renewed focus on budget deficits after a Democratic president takes the reins.
At least one Senate Democrat, Manchin, has joined the GOP to raise concerns about the cost of further relief. On Friday, he tweeted: “When the next round of stimulus checks expires, they should be aimed at those who need them.”
The House Democrats’ bill passed in December provided for checks eligibility as well as the bipartisan package. Individuals who earned up to $ 75,000 in 2019 and couples who collectively earned up to $ 150,000 that year received the full amount. Payments have been reduced by 5% for every dollar someone earns above these thresholds.
Because a larger check for $ 2,000 would require more income to void under these terms, individuals earning up to $ 115,000 would receive some amount of direct cash as part of the house-passed bill.
While Manchin has expressed doubts about the larger payments, Republicans like Rubio and Hawley have backed them.
Democrats will also face opposition to state and local government aid. Congress put the issue aside during the final round of relief talks as McConnell would no longer send money to governments without also passing coronavirus-related corporate liability protection.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers drafting a framework for the bill that finally became law last month failed to agree on state and local support and legal protection for businesses.
Still, Democrats could get a handful of GOP senators to endorse a bill that includes state and local government aid. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy has warned Republicans, among others, that states and cities will have to fire first responders if they stop receiving money from Congress.
– CNBC’s Tom Franck contributed to this report
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