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: 307449

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20772248
Hinds19888408
Harrison17489302
Rankin13311275
Jackson13097243
Madison9895210
Lee9856169
Jones8290160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7187237
Lowndes6262144
Lamar610584
Lafayette6027117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4419139
Warren4280118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403675
Neshoba3987176
Lincoln3869108
Hancock372085
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3180104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265779
Wayne261341
Leake261073
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120041
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81823
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518899

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753641487
Mobile37763798
Madison33859494
Tuscaloosa25266443
Montgomery23962565
Shelby23106238
Baldwin20631300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14284311
Morgan14139268
Etowah13662345
Marshall11957219
Houston10380278
Elmore9993200
Limestone9811147
Cullman9470188
St. Clair9426234
Lauderdale9215227
DeKalb8746181
Talladega8058171
Walker7087275
Jackson6754110
Autauga6723103
Blount6483135
Colbert6203130
Coffee5399112
Dale4767110
Russell428838
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia387674
Dallas3527149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256258
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218775
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171440
Washington164038
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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