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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: 320292

Reported Deaths: 7390
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22299271
Hinds20782424
Harrison18455317
Rankin13933282
Jackson13740249
Madison10276225
Lee10068176
Jones8475167
Forrest7845153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6524150
Lamar636688
Lafayette6315121
Washington5427138
Bolivar4842133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4610148
Marshall4576105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc426173
Monroe4163136
Union415977
Neshoba4066180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387687
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3374111
Alcorn327474
Scott320374
Yazoo314771
Adams308586
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma299084
Simpson298689
Tippah292468
Prentiss284461
Leake272474
Marion271480
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252451
Newton249064
Tishomingo232469
Winston230382
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210759
Holmes190574
Stone188833
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167940
Smith164134
Walthall135547
Greene131934
Lawrence131424
Montgomery128943
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126542
Carroll122330
Webster115132
Jefferson Davis108534
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79218
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549394

Reported Deaths: 11328
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810851571
Mobile42180832
Madison35733524
Tuscaloosa26186460
Shelby25638255
Montgomery25103615
Baldwin21921314
Lee16301176
Calhoun14725329
Morgan14650286
Etowah14192364
Marshall12465230
Houston10798289
Elmore10302214
Limestone10191157
St. Clair10166251
Cullman9975201
Lauderdale9621250
DeKalb8978190
Talladega8467184
Walker7351281
Autauga7244113
Jackson6993113
Blount6957139
Colbert6418140
Coffee5650128
Dale4931116
Russell455241
Chilton4476116
Franklin432082
Covington4283123
Tallapoosa4137155
Escambia402380
Chambers3731124
Dallas3609158
Clarke353361
Marion3264107
Pike314878
Lawrence3135100
Winston283672
Bibb268664
Geneva258782
Marengo250566
Pickens237062
Barbour234460
Hale227078
Butler225071
Fayette219763
Henry194844
Randolph187744
Cherokee187545
Monroe181041
Washington170639
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156157
Cleburne153744
Lamar147237
Lowndes142154
Wilcox126830
Bullock124642
Conecuh113830
Coosa112129
Perry108826
Sumter106032
Greene93734
Choctaw62125
Out of AL00
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Tupelo
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Hi: 92° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 97°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
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Feels Like: 98°
Oxford
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Starkville
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Feels Like: 92°
More hot and humid conditions will be in store for our area on Friday. We will see some isolated showers and thunderstorms as the rule on Friday. All of this will be due to some bits and pieces of low pressure working their way through our area.
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