Biden Administration Moves Ahead on COVID-19 Relief Bill, Challenging Promises of Bipartisanship

Tags: Currents Biden, Coronavirus, COVID Relief Bill, Democrats, Media, National News, Republicans

Currents News Staff

The Biden administration, now two weeks old now, has a lot at stake on Capitol Hill. Cabinet confirmations continue to move along, but there are still a number the Senate has to sign off on. Plus, there is Biden’s chief priority: a massive economic rescue bill already testing Biden’s promises of more bipartisanship.

President Biden invited top Senate Democrats to the White House to discuss his $1.9 trillion COVID economic relief plan. 

“I thought I’d welcome you all home. This is our new home, for a while anyway,” he told Them.

On Feb. 1, Biden heard from a group of Senate Republicans pitching a smaller plan and bipartisan compromise. On a call Feb. 2, he told Senate Democrats the GOP number is just too low to meet the moment.

“I don’t think the problem is that we’re going to go too big to deal with this crisis,” he said. “The problem is we’re going to go too small.”

So, with his blessing, Democrats are ready to go at it alone, and quickly.

“We will do his best, but unity doesn’t mean unanimity. And unity doesn’t mean letting the minority party block progress in the Senate,” Deomcratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware told Currents News. 

But Senate Minority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, says he won’t let Democrats move too fast.

“The rushed budget process that will play out this week is exactly the wrong path toward making law,” he said. 

The Senate is also set to begin the impeachment trial of former president Trump next week, creating a balancing act.

“There’s an urgency to deliver relief to the American people,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “We are confident they have the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Wednesday brought a flurry of activity on Biden’s cabinet nominees with multiple committee hearings, while newly-confirmed Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were sworn in.

Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell have finally struck a power-sharing agreement to work with the Senate’s 50-50 split. Vice President Kamala Harris, of course, gives the Democrats the tie-breaking vote. The deal means Democrats can now take control of committee chairmanships at a time, helpful to moving Biden’s agenda.