- Democratic Party members are largely unified in their support for President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus.
- A coordinated position – which also includes endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce – is a far cry from the chaos that dominated GOP negotiations last year.
- In negotiating the second bill, Republicans were split between hardliners like Mitch McConnell, and a breakaway group who led bipartisan negotiations – and were ultimately undermined by Trump.
- The issue of $US2,000 checks – now reduced to $US1,400 – has caused some complaints, but the party appears to be largely backing Biden’s plan.
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Congressional Democrats are largely unified in their support for President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus plan, contrasting sharply with the GOP divisions on the previous package.
Negotiations for the package passed over the holidays were characterised by GOP breakaway groups and an 11th-hour intervention from President Donald Trump.
But Biden’s transition team appears to have kept a strict handle on messaging at the announcement of his $US1.9 trillion relief plan.
The plan was announced Thursday with endorsement from multiple figures such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the US Chamber of Commerce.
Other positive comments came from Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“President-Elect Biden has put forth a very strong first instalment of an emergency relief plan,” said Sanders in a statement.
The endorsement was taken by some observers as a sign that opposition from the left wing of the Democratic party would be limited.
A statement from the Chamber of Commerce â€” a generally right-leaning lobby group â€” said it “applauds” the focus on vaccine rollout and economic recovery, although said that further economic measures should be “temporary.”
This third stimulus plan includes $US1,400 relief checks for Americans, which would make a total of $US2,000 when combined with the $US600 in the most recent package.
Other measures include increasing the federal minimum wage to $US15 an hour and hiking federal unemployment benefits, along with moves designed to support the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine.
There has nonetheless been dissent over the $US1,400 checks from progressives, who argue that the new stimulus checks should be $US2,000 by themselves.
The package Trump eventually signed into law included $US600 payments â€” which appears to have been subtracted from the anticipated figure of $US2,000 in the latest bill.
“$US2,000 means $US2,000. $US2,000 does not mean $US1,400,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Post.
Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, who has been touted as the latest member of progressive group “the Squad”, tweeted “$US1,400 â‰ $US2,000”
$1,400 ≠ $2,000
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) January 15, 2021
But these complaints are relatively limited compared to the GOP factional chaos that characterised negotiations in the late 2020 package.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell â€” whose majority was the main barrier for any legislation â€” held to a fiscally-conservative line for much of the negotiations.
A breakaway group of Republican Senators chipped away at that power by banding together with Democrats to propose an influential bipartisan bill that set a middle ground between the two parties.
As public calls grew for stimulus aid to arrive before Christmas, and with Democrats believing they had compromised enough, a $US900 billion bill hammered out between the parties passed both houses.
But then Trump threw a bombshell into the discussions by refusing to sign it.
Though Republicans may still oppose the Biden package, McConnell’s majority leadership in the Senate was undone with the Georgia runoffs.
It means that the 48 Democratic Senators, plus two independents, will be able get to a majority with the tie-breaker vote of Kamala Harris, soon to be Vice President..
It points to a useful honeymoon for Biden, whose transition has led on a message of unification.
The contrast between this and the highly coordinated rollout of Biden’s new proposal has been remarked on by commentators such as NBC’s Garrett Haake:
My inbox and twitter timeline are flooded with statements from Democrats (and even the Chamber of Commerce) in support of the Biden COVID rescue plan. I had almost forgotten what a coordinated policy rollout looks like.
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) January 15, 2021