The House of Representatives on a nearly party-line vote passed a budget measure clearing the way for the full chamber to start work on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, including $1,400 stimulus checks, billions for vaccine development and distribution, and aid for state and local governments.
By a 218-212 vote, the House passed legislation kicking off the process of budget reconciliation, a special process for passing bills that avoids a procedural hurdle known as the filibuster that would require at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to join all Democrats to move the bill forward. Securing 10 Republican votes could be difficult as Republicans expressed opposition to passing another large COVID-19 relief package after just passing a $900 billion package in December. Bills passed under reconciliation, however, are subject to certain rules which make it more difficult to include some Democratic priorities like an increase in the minimum wage to $15.
Democrats argue using the reconciliation process would allow them to press forward on the relief bill rather than face delays as they compromise with Republicans.
“We cannot afford to slow down our response to these urgent crises while Republicans decide if they want to help or not,” said Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who chairs the House Budget Committee.
It instructs congressional committees in the House to draft their parts of the package and then send all of the individual components of the package to the House Budget Committee by Feb. 16, clearing the way for the House to pass the full package by the end of February or beginning of March.
— Nicholas Wu
The House Rules Committee voted Wednesday to send on to the full House a measure stripping Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments as a result of the Georgia Republican’s incendiary, conspiratorial and racist posts on social media before she took office.
A vote on the House floor is expected Thursday.
Democrats said they are taking the extraordinary step of punishing a lawmaker on the other side of the aisle because GOP leaders have done little to condemn her posts including one “liking” a comment on Facebook in January 2019 that said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., should be taken out with a “bullet to the head.”
They were particularly incensed that Greene was named to the Education and Labor Committee by Republicans after she described prominent school shootings such as Sandy Hook in 2010 and Parkland, Florida in 2018 as nothing but staged events by Democrats to promote gun control. She also serves on the House Budget Committee.
“We had hoped that the Republican leadership would have dealt with this. For whatever reason, they don’t want to deal with it. And that’s unfortunate. So, we are taking this step,” said Rep. James McGovern, the Massachusetts democrat who chairs the Rules panel. “The question we all have to ask ourselves is what is the consequence of doing nothing.”
But Republicans told the committee that Greene shouldn’t be stripped of her committee assignments simply for social media posts that pre-dated her election in November and that voters in her northwest Georgia district should have the final say.
“This is her first month on the job,” Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, told the committee. “She deserves the opportunity to do her duties, to let her employers – her constituents, that is – decide next year whether to hire her again.”
— Ledyard King
Although still lacking support from Republican members of Congress, the White House argued Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill already is “bipartisan” because polls show the public overwhelmingly supports it.
“Our view is that this bill itself is bipartisan,” Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing. “Seventy-four percent of the public support it – Republican and Democrats, independents across the country.”
She was referring to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll that found Biden’s push for $2,000 relief checks – $600 provided by congressional action in December and $1,400 more proposed in the president’s bill – is supported by 74% of Americans and opposed by just 13%.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found 68% of Americans support passage of the legislation, including 37% of Republican voters,…