Politics House Democrats charge ahead with bills likely to stall Senate
Minimum wage increase imperiled in covid relief bill by Senate official’s ruling
The guidance from the parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, was communicated privately to key Senate offices and confirmed by aides in both parties. It could be a major setback for liberals hoping to use Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill as the vehicle for their long-sought goal of raising the federal minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour. And it could create divisions in the party as some push Democratic leaders for dramatic action to get around the parliamentarian’s ruling. Democrats had been anxiously awaiting the decision, but their next steps are not clear. Liberals are already pressuring Senate Majority Leader Charles E.
Washington — House Democrats are pursuing an ambitious agenda to approve several progressive bills supported by President Biden in the coming weeks, but these measures face an uncertain future in the evenly divided Senate, where most legislation will require support from Republicans to advance.
The House is expected vote on , a comprehensive election reform bill, later this week. It is also expected to take up a wide-ranging policing reform bill, a gun control measure and a labor bill protecting union organizing rights. This comes after the House approved the last week, a bill that would enshrine legal protections for LGBTQ Americans.
Democrats wrong to attack Senate parliamentarian
The path forward on the minimum wage is not procedural wizardry but leveraging the proposal’s broad public popularity.Democrats have known all along that some provisions they wanted to include in the relief bill might not meet the requirements for budget reconciliation. Chief among these was their proposed stepped increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Superficially, that looks more like a regulatory initiative rather than a fiscal one.
Several of these measures have previously passed in the House but stalled in the Senate, as then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring them to the floor for consideration. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had referred to McConnell as the "grim reaper," overseeing the "legislative graveyard" of the Senate. However, even with Democrats now nominally in control of the Senate, many of these bills still face an uncertain future.
Democrats have the narrowest possible majority in the Senate, with 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris casting any tie-breaking vote. But most legislation in the Senate requires 60 votes to advance, meaning that Democrats would need support from at least 10 Republicans.
Biden's relief bill isn't getting bipartisan support like previous stimulus bills. What do Republicans dislike so much?
All Senate Republicans voted against even starting debate on the $1.9 trillion measure on Thursday.The legislation, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, which the Senate started debating Thursday, is getting a partisan reception in Congress. Democrats want it passed soon, but little to no Republican members of Congress have so far voiced support.
Progressives have pushed for Senate Democrats to eliminate the legislative filibuster, which would allow legislation to advance with a simple majority of votes. But getting rid of the filibuster would also require 51 votes, and at least two Democrats have expressed opposition to taking this action, colloquially known as the "nuclear option."
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of the most moderate Democrats in the Senate who now has the power to almost single-handedly block many progressive priorities, has been particularly vehement in his opposition to eliminating the filibuster.
"Never! Jesus Christ! What don't you understand about never?" Manchin said Monday when asked by reporters if he would change his mind about invoking the nuclear option.
Senate Democrats invoked the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for most judicial nominees in 2013, and Republicans eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in 2017. Defenders of the filibuster argue that it preserves the rights of the minority, but opponents say that it allows the minority to hold the will of the majority of Americans hostage by preventing the party in power from implementing its agenda.
The last minute federal unemployment insurance compromise, briefly explained
Joe Manchin singlehandedly pared back federal unemployment benefits in the new Covid relief package.Under the new plan, expanded federal unemployment benefits, which supplement state unemployment payments and are set to expire in mid-March — would be renewed at $300 per week through the first week of September. The first $10,200 of benefits will also be non-taxable under a $150,000 income threshold.
Republicans have expressed opposition to several of the bills under consideration in the House. H.R. 1 was a major target of speakers during the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend, and was even mentioned by former President Donald Trump in his speech. The legislation includes campaign financing reform, expanding voting rights and anti-corruption measures.
There is also disagreement between parties on how best to address policing reform. The House will again bring forward the , named after the Minnesota man who died in police custody last year after an officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes, instigating a wave of protests against racial violence and police brutality over the summer.
The legislation would ban chokeholds and overhaul qualified immunity protections for law enforcement. However, the qualified immunity provision is a sticking point for Republicans. Republican Senator Tim Scott, the lone Black Republican in the Senate, introduced a policing reform bill last year that did not address qualified immunity, but this legislation was who argued that it did not go far enough.
Third stimulus relief plan: Here's what's in the Senate stimulus plan
The Senate on Saturday passed its version of the Democrats' massive coronavirus relief package, after the House passed its package last week. © Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images The U.S. Capitol building is seen at sunrise on February 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers made several changes throughout the legislation, but three were particularly notable -- narrowing eligibility for the stimulus checks, trimming the federal boost to unemployment benefits and nixing an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Much of the Senate legislation, however, largely mirrors the $1.
Scott told reporters on Monday that he had an initial conversation with Congresswoman Karen Bass, the lead sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, "looking at the bill holistically."
"We did not come to any conclusions. We have not started negotiating any parts of it," Scott said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut Tuesday that would require universal background checks on the sale or transfer of all firearms. Although the measure has Republican co-sponsors in the House, its prospects in the Senate are uncertain.
Many progressives in the House argue that compromising with Republicans would mean passing significantly watered-down legislation. As a workaround to avoid being stymied by the filibuster, the Senate majority can use budget reconciliation to pass some bills with a simple majority. Congress is currently using the budget reconciliation process to pass Mr. Biden's , but there are strict rules governing the process.
The Senate parliamentarian that the relief bill could not include a provision to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 under budget reconciliation rules. Even if the House manages to pass a separate bill hiking the minimum wage to $15, it would likely die in the Senate. Democrats may have to settle for negotiating with Republicans in the Senate on increasing the minimum wage to a smaller amount.
Inside Team Trump’s New Plot to Suppress the Vote Under Biden .
Donald Trump has made it clear that he wants election crackdowns to emerge as one of the defining legacies of his post-presidency, having failed to cling to power during Republicans’ anti-democratic blitz during and following the 2020 race. And various GOP lawmakers and some of the ex-president’s most prominent allies are lining up to assist him, as Democrats watch in horror and strategize their counter-offensives. These national and stateThese national and state policy battles have rapidly developed into one of the most critical partisan fights of Joe Biden’s young presidency, with both parties viewing the outcomes as increasingly vital to their survival and future dominance at the ballot box.