- Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would be “completely ready to go” to pass Biden’s rescue plan during the first week of February.
- It sets up a swift timeline for Democrats to start moving on a core component of Biden’s early legislative agenda.
- It remains unclear when the Senate could take it up because the House hasn’t sent an article of impeachment against Trump to start his trial.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at her weekly press conference on Thursday that Democrats will be prepared to act swiftly on another coronavirus relief package during the first week of February.
“We’ll be doing our committee work all next week so that we are completely ready to go to the floor when we come back,” Pelosi said.
Earlier, House Democratic leaders reportedly said the chamber would be out of session next week to begin drafting stimulus legislation. Another House session would start the week of Feb. 1.
Pelosi’s remarks align Congressional Democrats with President Joe Biden’s speedy timeline to pass another coronavirus relief package early on in his presidency. Biden has proposed a $US1.9 trillion emergency spending plan to provide federal assistance for individuals, businesses, and state and local governments.
It includes provisions for enhanced unemployment insurance, new stimulus checks, vaccine funds, larger tax credits for low-income Americans, as well as a $US15 minimum wage.
But the legislation also needs to clear a narrowly divided Senate before it reaches Biden’s desk for his signature. It’s still unclear when the upper chamber could take up the proposal, given uncertainty around the schedule for a second impeachment trial for President Donald Trump.
The House recently voted to impeach Trump for his role inciting a deadly riot at the US Capitol earlier this month. Pelosi did not say on Thursday when the article of impeachment would be sent to the Senate, triggering the trial.
She also rejected arguments the trial could undermine the unity Biden said he would attempt to foster during his inaugural address.
“The President of the United States committed an act of incitement of insurrection,” the California Democrat told reporters. “I don’t think it’s very unifying to say, ‘oh, let’s just forget it and move on.’ That’s not how you unify.”
The Biden administration needs 10 votes from Republican senators to approve the legislation. But Senate Republicans ratcheted up their criticism of the relief package this week. Some also suggested it was too early to consider another proposal because Congress recently signed off on another government rescue plan.
“We just passed a program with over $US900 billion in it. I’m not looking for a new program in the immediate future,” Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters on Wednesday.
Democrats could opt to pass the rescue plan with only Democratic votes through the reconciliation process. But that step may take weeks and would set up a very narrow margin for error. It could also force the administration to shed some parts of the plan like the minimum wage boost so the legislation complies with strict budget rules.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki didn’t rule out using the procedure at her first press briefing on Wednesday evening, saying the administration is “not taking any tools off the table.”
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