Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer indicated the Senate is prepared to begin moving forward on a massive coronavirus package as soon as next week, with or without Republicans.
The New York Democrat said on Thursday morning that “only big bold action is called for,” given the slowdown in the economy. President Joe Biden has pitched a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan that would also raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a package that most Republicans have already rejected.
But if they can keep party unity, Democrats can approve coronavirus legislation without GOP support via budget reconciliation. And Schumer gave some of his strongest indications yet that this could happen soon, starting with passage of a budget resolution that unlocks reconciliation’s power.
“The Senate, as early as next week, will begin the process of considering a very strong Covid relief bill. Our preference is to make this important work bipartisan, to include input, ideas and revisions from our Republican colleagues,” Schumer said. “But if our Republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation, we will have to move forward without them.”
Schumer also said that slashing the package in a major way isn’t going to happen, contending that “to cut things dramatically at a time when the economy needs a boost would be irresponsible.“
Senate Democrats will speak with top Biden administration officials on Thursday about the path forward. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators is continuing to meet, holding a discussion about coronavirus legislation on Wednesday evening.
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