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Stimulus negotiations: Pressure turns to the Senate to close deal on Covid relief

The Senate could move as soon as this week to pass their own version of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill.That plan will, of cours...

Posted: Mar 1, 2021 9:50 AM
Updated: Mar 1, 2021 2:45 PM

The Senate could move as soon as this week to pass their own version of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill.

That plan will, of course, look a little different than the House bill as it won't include the $15 an hour minimum wage. It also is not going to include the so-called Plan B drafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden that would have penalized corporations that didn't increase wages on their own. That plan faced pushback in the Democratic caucus.

It's a complicated provision. How do you select which companies qualify? How do you determine what the wage should be? Is it $15 or is it less to win support from people like Sen. Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia? Those questions would have taken awhile to answer.

It became clear over the weekend, according to multiple aides, there wasn't time for it. The differences among members may have been able to be worked out, but abandoning it is a sign that Democrats are trying to move quickly here. They don't want this dragging out. They are close to the finish line and an intra-party fight over the minimum wage Part 2 isn't exactly helpful in the moment.

The March 14 deadline

If the Senate passes their version of the bill by the end of the week, that gives the House time to re-pass the new version in their own chamber. It also gives the President time to sign it and gives states an opportunity to readjust their unemployment benefits with the increased benefit.

Yes, Democrats are on schedule right now and many aides have told CNN 'it's a strange feeling' after four years of tumult under former President Donald Trump. There are no doubts Biden is going to sign this proposal. There is no tweet coming for bigger stimulus checks. The White House and congressional Democrats are in lockstep here. They have been the whole time, and it's part of the reason this package looks so identical to Biden's plan. It's also why they may meet their deadline of having enacted the bill by March 14 when a weekly federal enhancement in benefits is scheduled to expire.

The next steps

This plan is subject to change, but this is what we are looking at for timing:

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, will bring the package to the floor as soon as Wednesday.
  • That version will include changes suggested by the parliamentarian (so no minimum wage increase).
  • That begins 20 hours of debate.
  • At the end of those 20 hours, the Senate will begin their second vote-a-rama. Given the nature of those marathon votes, we cannot predict exactly when final passage will be, but if past is prologue, look to early Friday morning. The last vote-a-rama ended at 5 a.m. ET.

Something to remember about vote-a-rama

The last vote-a-rama was just show votes. It was an opportunity for Republicans to put Democrats on the spot on controversial issues and try to draw out Democratic defections. It worked on a few issues. Two Democrats crossed the aisle and voted for a Republican amendment to allow the continuation of the Keystone XL pipeline. A handful of Democrats joined Republicans to tighten income eligibility requirements on who was eligible for stimulus checks.

But in the end, Democrats passed an amendment to strip changes from the bill. Those amendments didn't have the force of law anyway because they were on a budget resolution. This time is different. As one GOP senator told CNN, these are 'live bullets' and keeping Democrats unified in the vote-a-rama is going to be key for Democratic leadership. The work to do that is already underway, but it is going to be a tough test for Schumer.

On Tuesday, Biden will join Democrats in their lunch and that will be an opportunity for Biden to deliver a closing argument of unity.

Progressives will keep pushing on minimum wage, but it isn't likely to change anything

Expect in the next few days, House progressives and outside groups growing louder in their calls that Vice President Kamala Harris needs to ignore the ruling of the Senate parliamentarian and pass the minimum wage anyway. That isn't going to happen.

Practically speaking, the White House has already said it, repeatedly. The chief of staff has said it. The White House's own official statement was that they were disappointed in the ruling on minimum wage, but respected the decision. And, on a political level, Senate Democrats cannot lose Manchin and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, which is exactly what would happen if Harris ignored the parliamentarian.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 473413

Reported Deaths: 9214
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32339474
Hinds30703575
DeSoto29814346
Jackson23263336
Rankin21111358
Lee14600217
Madison14043265
Jones13165218
Forrest12953233
Lauderdale11418297
Lowndes10249175
Lamar10048128
Pearl River8737209
Lafayette8078136
Hancock7324111
Washington6837147
Oktibbeha6820118
Neshoba6404201
Monroe6372158
Warren6326161
Pontotoc610393
Panola6071124
Bolivar6016143
Marshall5972118
Union564086
Pike5491133
Lincoln5232130
Alcorn520888
George457868
Scott451993
Leflore4401140
Prentiss437276
Itawamba436198
Tippah436180
Simpson4268111
Copiah425586
Wayne424863
Tate4234100
Adams4219114
Yazoo415886
Sunflower4088104
Covington407391
Marion4032100
Leake393185
Coahoma388198
Newton364474
Grenada3517101
Stone345657
Tishomingo324888
Attala321185
Jasper310262
Winston300391
Clay288273
Chickasaw282164
Clarke277487
Calhoun259739
Holmes259485
Smith243947
Yalobusha216747
Tallahatchie215649
Walthall205557
Greene204045
Lawrence203831
Perry196453
Amite193751
Webster191941
Noxubee174538
Montgomery169853
Jefferson Davis165541
Carroll159937
Tunica148434
Benton139433
Kemper137439
Claiborne125634
Choctaw124925
Humphreys123337
Franklin115227
Quitman101825
Wilkinson99835
Jefferson86632
Sharkey62120
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 764839

Reported Deaths: 13048
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1089971721
Mobile698041173
Madison48181574
Baldwin35619445
Shelby35053289
Tuscaloosa32903508
Montgomery32475655
Lee21787203
Calhoun19941374
Morgan19234315
Etowah18509422
Marshall17217258
Houston16028347
St. Clair14866275
Limestone14059179
Elmore13943241
Cullman13942234
Lauderdale13030266
Talladega12307211
DeKalb11829226
Walker10171306
Autauga9439124
Blount9357149
Jackson9055136
Coffee8625157
Colbert8287164
Dale8241151
Escambia6436103
Tallapoosa6353166
Covington6291154
Chilton6215129
Russell590154
Franklin561294
Chambers5211130
Dallas4610176
Marion4579114
Clarke449471
Pike448289
Geneva4223102
Winston404685
Lawrence4040101
Bibb394776
Barbour337067
Marengo319979
Monroe310346
Butler308483
Pickens298369
Randolph291655
Henry291455
Hale285281
Cherokee278249
Fayette270671
Washington242645
Crenshaw231664
Clay220761
Macon213254
Cleburne208746
Lamar186339
Conecuh176538
Lowndes168756
Coosa162531
Wilcox153934
Bullock146842
Perry134035
Sumter122935
Greene118541
Choctaw72225
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Occasional areas of rain and some scattered thunderstorms will be in store for most of the weekend. However, good news by later sections of next week, as cooler and drier air will work its way into our weather forecast.
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