The $1.9 trillion spending package has narrowly passed on the House, and now Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says he has the votes to pass what he calls the “American rescue plan” this week.
“We want to get the biggest, strongest, boldest bill that can pass and that’s what we are working to do,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday. “We’ll have the votes we need to pass the bill.”
Schumer said he might begin debate Wednesday and expects “a hardy debate” and “some late nights on the floor,” while using the budget reconciliation strategy to pass it with a mere 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaker and avert a Senate filibuster.
“American people are overwhelmingly in support of this legislation,” Schumer said, noting congressional Republicans are not.
GOP critics of the package consider it excessive spending and not the massive deferrals make it clear it is less urgent for COVID-19 relief now.
President Joe Biden addressed Democrat senators in a virtual caucus lunch earlier Tuesday.
“Biden made his pitch today to our entire caucus,” Schumer said. “He said we need to pass this bill and pass it soon.”
Budget reconciliation limits debate to 20 hours, followed by voting on amendments to the bill.
Among the amendments will be a Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., effort to return the $15 federal minimum wage to the bill, which was rejected by the Senate parliamentarian who ruled it cannot be in the bill under the budget reconciliation tactic.
“I intend to offer the bill that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and we’ll see how the votes go,” Sanders told reporters Monday. “But let me be very clear: If we fail in this legislation, I will be back. We’re going to keep going and, if it takes 10 votes, we’re going to raise that minimum wage very shortly.”
Democrats can get around re-adding the minimum wage amendment, because Republicans would merely have the authority to raise a point of order, citing the parliamentarian ruling, but Vice President Harris presiding could merely overrule the GOP point of order, according to CBS News.
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