Senate Democrats weigh merging coronavirus relief and infrastructure into a massive multi-trillion-dollar package that could pass without GOP votes

Chuck Schumer Bernie Sanders

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Senate Democrats are weighing whether to combine an infrastructure bill and coronavirus relief legislation into a single, massive multi-trillion-dollar package that could pass without Republican votes, two Democratic aides familiar with the discussions tell Insider. 

The ongoing talks reflect a desire among Democrats to swiftly capitalize on their new Senate majority with President-elect Joe Biden set to assume office in less than a week. They are poised to control both chambers of Congress and the White House for the first time in a decade — and it could pave the way for renewed legislative efforts on the economy and climate among other areas.

The aides spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly share details. Both cautioned that discussions were in their early stages and nothing was final. 

Biden has repeatedly said he aims to pass another large coronavirus relief package shortly after being sworn in. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming majority leader, called it their “first order of legislative business” in a letter to Democratic colleagues on Tuesday, which is expected to include additional stimulus checks and small business a

Democratic congressional leaders have signaled they intend to use a legislative maneuver called budget reconciliation to enact swaths of their agenda. It only requires a majority vote, meaning Democrats could circumvent Republicans and approve it on their own with 50 votes plus Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker.

Sen. Bernie Sanders — who is set to chair the Senate Budget Committee — has said he is in touch with other committee leaders and Biden on how to maximize their use of the reconciliation process. They can exercise it twice this year.

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That has included trying to determine whether a reconciliation package could include Biden’s $2 trillion plan to invest into clean energy and infrastructure. It includes provisions to expand public transportation, universal broadband, and boosted research and development spending into renewable sources of energy.

“We have few shots at the apple and we don’t want to risk doing too little,” the senior Democratic aide said.

Sanders recently told Politico he is eyeing an “aggressive reconciliation bill to address the suffering of working American families today.” The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming majority leader, didn’t publicly rule out merging infrastructure and coronavirus relief into what would likely be a colossal piece of legislation earlier this week.

“They’re both very important, and they both will be very high priorities whether they come across together or separately,” he told the Buffalo News in an interview published Monday.

But merging both pieces of legislation could cause another set of challenges. The other Democratic aide believed it was unlikely Democrats would opt for this route, saying it could slow down what is …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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