The House of Representatives will aim to pass President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 relief bill by the end of the month, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Friday.
“Next week, we will be writing the legislation to create a path to final passage for the Biden American Rescue Plan, so that we can finish our work before the end of February,” Pelosi said in an open letter to Democrat colleagues.
The Senate narrowly passed a budget resolution on Friday after a marathon session. The resolution is being sent back to the House because it was amended. Because Democrats enjoy a majority in the lower chamber, they’re expected to pass the amended resolution.
Congressional Democrats are using a budgetary process to ram the $1.9 trillion package through the chambers without Republican support. No Republicans backed the budget votes in the House or the Senate.
Biden met with Democrat leaders, including Pelosi, at the White House on Friday morning about five hours after the Senate vote. They discussed the COVID-19 relief plan in a confab closed to press.
Biden is “open, as we all are, to bipartisanship,” Pelosi told reporters afterwards outside the White House, “but, nonetheless, interested in getting results as soon as we can.”
The budget reconciliation will “hopefully give us some leverage with the Republicans,” she added. “There’s nothing in reconciliation that precludes Republicans voting for it,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said.
Republicans have spoken out against Democrats using the budget tool to force the package through without support from the other side of the aisle.
“Veiled under the guise of COVID-19 relief, this budget resolution is really a backdoor scheme to rush through Congress a big government wish list that has little to do with defeating the coronavirus. It is yet another signal since the inauguration that pledges of unity and bipartisan working relations continue to ring hollow,” Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-La.) said in a statement Friday.
“I don’t support this budget resolution, and I urge my Democratic colleagues and the Biden Administration to change course and work with us to craft a bipartisan, targeted package which will deliver relief to those who actually need it,” added Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in a tweet.
Biden told reporters before the meeting that the new jobs report indicated, in his mind, it would take 10 years to get back to full employment. He also said passing a new relief package was about saving people’s lives.
The former vice president said he was put in charge of the Recovery Act during the Obama administration.
“It was hard as hell to get the votes for it to begin with, and then it was hard as hell to get even the number we got. But one thing we learned is, you know, we can’t do too much here; we can do too little. We can do too little and sputter,” he said, adding, “We got a chance to do something big here.”
Pelosi told colleagues in her letter that a budget “is a statement of our values.”
“Our work to crush the coronavirus and deliver relief to the American people is urgent and of the highest priority. With this budget resolution, we have taken a giant step to save lives and livelihoods,” she added.
The coronavirus, or the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, causes the COVID-19 disease.