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Schumer says Democrats ready to use reconciliation to pass COVID-19 relief

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With an uneasy truce in hand between Senate leaders on the filibuster, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats are ready to pursue “big, strong, bold action” and pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, and he informed his caucus that they should be prepared to use reconciliation as soon as next week to pass the legislation.

“Time is of the essence to address this crisis,” Schumer (D-NY) said Tuesday during a briefing with Senate Democratic leaders.

“We’re keeping all options open on the table, including using budget reconciliation. The first step to pursuing COVID relief legislation and reconciliation would be to pass a budget resolution. And so, in keeping our options open, on our caucus call today I informed senators to be prepared that a vote on a budget resolution could come as early as next week,” he continued. 

The Democratic leader called on the Senate to take “big, strong, bold action to deal with this crisis” and criticized Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the former majority leader, for turning the chamber into a “legislative graveyard” the past six years. 

“Now that Leader McConnell has relented on his demand that was preventing the Senate [from moving] forward with an organizing resolution, we can begin work to help the American people get out of this crisis and make America bigger and better and stronger,” Schumer said.

He said the Senate will handle three matters at the same time: impeachment of former President Donald Trump, confirming President Biden’s nominees, and advancing coronavirus relief in a “bipartisan way.”

“But the work must move forward, preferably with our Republican colleagues. Without them, if we must,” he said. 

Schumer and McConnell have come to a tenuous understanding on the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to pass legislation.

McConnell dropped his opposition to the Senate maneuver when two Democrats sided with him to say they wouldn’t kill the filibuster.

But Schumer is turning to reconciliation, which would allow Democrats to pass certain spending items as part of the COVID-19 package.

Democrats control the chamber in a 50-50 split, with Vice President Kamala Harris poised to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announces plans for the next three weeks: confirming President Biden’s nominees, COVID relief and impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Kevin C. Downs for the New York Post

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