Welcome to the slog.
The East Coast Major League Baseball teams endure a tough job. They have a great west coast road trip that spans a few weeks. Games in Arizona. San Diego. Los Angeles. San Francisco. Oakland.
College students meet the slog. This last tightening of class work, two weeks until the end of the semester – followed by the finals.
And Congress is no stranger to the slog. Especially when there is a big and costly bill that hits the parliamentary pike.
That’s the case over the next two weeks, as Congress tries to finalize the Democrats’ $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill.
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Completing the fifth round of COVID aids has been a difficult task. Discussions began over the summer. Congress finally passed the bill just before Christmas. He then faced a veto threat from former President Trump. But the president signed the measure just before the new year.
It was a slog. Slow and prolonged work.
The effort to pass the sixth major coronavirus package is a sprint slogan. It will consume two weeks (or more) of congressional stage traffic. But that will be a slog. Maybe even devour the next weekends.
The House Budget Committee officially launched the “slog” process on Monday afternoon. The panel drafted its special budget reconciliation measure this week to handle the $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill.
“We are in a race against time,” argued House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky. “Bold action is needed before our nation is no longer deeply and permanently marked by the human and economic costs of inaction.”
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Think of this first measure as the “shell” for handling the actual bill. A vehicle. The ultimate text of the coronavirus bill will “go up” inside the COVID package.
The measure is then sent to the Rules of Procedure Committee. House Democrats insist they will give MPs three full days to review the package. That is why we are considering a Friday or Saturday vote on this iteration of the bill.
It is a massive 600-page bill.
Republicans understood how a major part of the plan had little to do with tackling the pandemic – whether from a health or economic standpoint. Part of this is questionable. But Republicans cited $ 35 billion in grants to help with the Affordable Care Act premiums, $ 1 billion for underprivileged farmers. $ 30 billion for local transit systems. And, something Republicans generally opposed last year, a staggering $ 350 billion for local and state governments.
“Now we know it’s the wrong plan, at the wrong time, for all the wrong reasons,” protested Representative Jason Smith (R-MO), the most Republican on the Budget Committee. Smith argued that the government has yet to spend more than $ 1 trillion on previous COVID packages.
The most controversial provision of the bill is an increase in the hourly minimum wage to $ 15. Republicans – and even some Democrats – are more than willing to fight this.
“What does this have to do with relief from COVID?” asked House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. “These small businesses are going to have an even harder time coming back when you switch to a minimum wage of $ 15. These things have nothing to do with COVID.”
Democrats will likely have to go it alone in both the House and Senate to approve this measure. But it’s not out of the question that Democrats can snatch a GOPer or two in either body to vote yes.
The Senate will not tackle the initial version of the reconciliation plan until next week at the earliest. The House is set to pick up the bill from the Senate next week. A deadline for changing the final House plan is set for Thursday. The House would then presumably consider the final version of the bill next week or whenever the Senate sends it back through the Rotunda.
Despite protests (mostly) from the GOP against the increase in the minimum wage, Senate MP Elizabeth MacDonough declares the $ 15 inadmissible.
Here’s why it’s a problem:
The House and Senate are using special budget reconciliation rules to move the coronavirus bill forward because it can bypass a filibuster. There is no way Democrats can summon 60 votes to overcome a conventional filibuster. But using the special budget reconciliation process for this COVID bill allows Democrats to bypass the bill. If Senate Democrats stand together and get all 50 Senate Democrats to vote yes, they could pass the measure with Vice President Harris breaking the tie.
But the catch is that the reconciliation bill cannot include political provisions or increase the deficit over a long period.
Provisions like the minimum wage could run counter to the two requirements listed above. So the Liberals in the House will likely vote for minimum wage in the first package. But then must make a judgment appeal if it is removed from the Senate package. Democrats also have the opportunity to say they voted for it – but then blame this “ugly old Senate and its bizarre budget rules” for removing the minimum wage increase.
But will House Democrats stay together?
Keep in mind that there are a host of topics that senators might prune because they do not comply with the budgetary rules.
You see, the House does not have to comply with the “budget reconciliation” restrictions. The Senate does. So, it is possible that you have several of these provisions just for the show.
$ 100 million for the Bay Area Rapid Transit expansion has caught the attention of some GOPers.
“It’s one of the risks of having a bill this big,” complained Rep. Michael Burgess of R-Texas. “Let’s not build an underground railroad through Silicon Valley.”
House Democrats can only lose five votes and pass a bill on their own without needing Republican help. And Democratic House leaders fully admit that they expect the COVID bill they send to the Senate to be a different animal when it returns. The House would have to accept the Senate version to have the two organs on the same page.
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Senate Democrats may not have the necessary votes to pass the measure on their own, even though MacDonough says the minimum wage provision is in order. The senses. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., And Joe Manchin, DW.Va., oppose the increase in the minimum wage in this bill.
This is why this could be a slog. You never know exactly how long it will take to apply all the provisions and make sure the votes are in the right place.
The aim is for the two bodies to approve the bill in early March. That’s when a bundle of benefits approved in the last COVID bill expires. This race against time is why the next few weeks are going to be a difficult task.
Until the following COVID bill.