Democrats in the Senate are preparing to move ahead with President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 package—which includes potential $1,400 direct payments—after pushback from a bipartisan group.
“The work must move forward, preferably with our Republican colleagues, but without them if we must,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Tuesday after a private meeting with Democratic senators. “Time is of the essence to address this crisis. We’re keeping all options open on the table.”
Schumer suggested he will move forward without Republican support if need be.
“In keeping our options open, on our caucus call today I informed senators to be prepared that a vote on a budget resolution could come as early as next week,” the New York Democrat added. “We have to see what they say in the next few days,” he continued in saying, referring to Senate Republicans.
Democrats can try to move forward on the package after passing a budget resolution in the Senate, which might pave the way for lawmakers to pass certain bills with just 51 votes instead of 60 votes.
“I think there is a consensus,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), told reporters. “If Republicans are not prepared to come on board, that’s fine. We’re not going to wait. We’re going forward soon and aggressively.”
Separately, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that Biden is aiming to negotiate on an aid package and emphasized that several components will expire in March.
“He laid out his big package, his big vision of what it should look like, and people are giving their feedback,” Psaki said. “He’s happy to have those discussions and fully expects it’s not going to look exactly the same on the other end.”
On Monday, Biden noted that he is open to negotiating the amount doled out via stimulus payments.
“Time is of the essence,” Biden said of passing the $1.9 trillion package. “I am reluctant to cherry-pick and take out one or two items here.”
Biden noted there will be disagreements on the size of the package, coming after he proposed the $1,400 checks.
“We’re going to have arguments. For example, I proposed that, because it was bipartisan it would increase the prospects of passage, the additional $1,400 in direct cash payments to folks,” Biden said. “Well there’s legitimate reason for people to say, ‘Do you have the lines drawn the exact right way? Should it go to anybody making over ‘X’ number of dollars?’ I’m open to negotiate those things.”