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Democrats Move To Pass $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill via Reconciliation Process

The move to reconciliation passed 50-49 in the Senate.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol

The U.S. Senate just voted 50-49 to move Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan, through the budget reconciliation process, preventing any attempts at filibustering from Senate Republicans. Traditionally, bills need 60 votes to pass in the Senate, but a budget reconciliation bill is a special procedure that only needs 51 votes. The votes were split along party lines, with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) not present, and Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote that gives Democrats the majority.

“With this budget resolution, the Democratic Congress is paving the way for the landmark Biden-Harris coronavirus package that will crush the virus and deliver real relief to families and communities in need,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement released with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “We are hopeful that Republicans will work in a bipartisan manner to support assistance for their communities, but the American people cannot afford any more delays and the Congress must act to prevent more needless suffering.”

The move to reconciliation comes just one day after 10 GOP senators met with President Biden to present their scaled-down version of a relief bill that cost $600 billion. As Republicans continue to weaponize Biden’s calls for unity against him, many Democrats were worried that Biden and the Democratic-led senate would capitulate to Republican demands.

But it appears that Biden and the Democratic Senate are moving aggressively to make the relief bill happen. Dems who won in 2020 ran on big, bold change, and it would be a damning move if the party squandered their newly won capital. Luckily, it appears that Dems are working fast to deliver tangible relief to millions of Americans, fulfilling the promise of their campaign.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, “His [Biden] view is that at this point in our country, when 1-in-7 American families don’t have enough food to eat, we need to make sure people get the relief they need and are not left behind,” adding that the risk “is not going too big, it is going too small.”

Republicans had previously used reconciliation to pass their billionaire tax cuts in 2017 and in their failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act that same year, when Senators Murkowski, McCain, and Collins crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats.

That year, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a statement regarding Republican control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency. Speaking of Democratic protesters he said, “They had their shot in the election. … But in this country when you win the election you get to make policy. I always remind people, winners make policy and losers go home.”

And McConnell did just that during his 6-year tenure ruling over the Senate, where he blocked Democrat-led bills and forced through the conservative agenda. But a lot can change in six years, and 2021 finds the roles reversed, with Joe Biden in office and Democrats narrowly holding the majority in both the House and the Senate. Of course, now that they’re in the minority, Republicans are crowing about unity and bipartisanship, two things they never bothered to extend to Democrats.

McConnell said of reconciliation passing today, “They’ve chosen a totally partisan path … We’re off to a totally partisan start. I think that’s unfortunate … Life is a series of choices, and they’ve chosen.”

(via CNN, featured image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.