(Bloomberg) — The White House on Thursday morning said President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package can’t be split up “piecemeal” even though that’s an increasing possibility given congressional plans to use a fast-track budget tool.
Republicans have voiced support for vaccine funding, but remain opposed to other elements of Biden’s plan. That spurred Democratic congressional staff to prepare two legislative options — for a bipartisan package and a Democrat-only bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to hold a press briefing Thursday morning, where she may speak to the latest plans for moving the stimulus legislation through her chamber.
White House Says It Can’t Do a ‘Piecemeal’ Plan
The White House said it’s not looking to split up the stimulus plan despite opposition from Republicans to parts of it, amid pressure from progressive Democrats to keep the full package intact.
“The needs of the American people aren’t partial; we can’t do this piecemeal,” Brian Deese, the White House’s chief economic adviser, tweeted Thursday.
His comment followed a Politico report saying Biden administration aides are in talks with bipartisan groups to bring Republicans on board for part of the stimulus package initially, then moving the rest with potentially Democrats only. White House press secretary Jen Psaki also tweeted that “we aren’t looking to split a package in two.”
Progressives Push Democratic Leaders for Full $1.9 Trillion
The heads of the progressive Democratic caucus wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for no watering down of Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief proposal.
“President Biden’s rescue package, which comes in at $1.9 trillion, is a critical first step meeting the economic need, but if anything, it doesn’t go far enough,” Pramila Jayapal and Katie Porter, the chair and deputy chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, wrote in a letter Wednesday. “Congress should be building off of this opening offer, not weakening it.”
Biden earlier in the week said he was open to negotiating on his proposal, as he seeks GOP support. Congressional aides said Wednesday that they’re preparing two separate tracks for legislation — for a bipartisan bill and a Democrat-only one.
House and Senate budget committees are preparing to move on fiscal 2021 budget resolutions, the first step toward a so-called reconciliation bill, which allows the Senate to proceed on a simple-majority vote basis — avoiding the need for 60 votes to cut off the filibuster. It makes all the difference given the chamber’s partisan 50-50 split.
Not all of Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan is likely to qualify for that route. The $160 billion for Covid-19 vaccines and testing would likely be out because discretionary spending is excluded from the process, while the proposed minimum-wage hike may also be disqualified for having insufficient budget impact.
Stimulus checks and jobless benefits, two major components, would be in. Aid for state and local governments would face a high hurdle. — Erik Wasson
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.