Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan is popular with voters, but it's crashing into strong Republican resistance in Congress
Democratsare turning their attention to enacting Biden's rescue package by mid-March.
- It's garnered strong support from voters, but backing is virtually nonexistent from
- Many Republicans argue the measure is too big and filled with liberal priorities like a cash payment program for parents.
Now that the second impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump has ended with an acquittal, Democrats are turning their attention to handing President
Democrats are racing to enact Biden's $1.9 trillion federal rescue package and kickstart the flow of aid before
The proposal would provide $1,400
But the package has crashed into strong opposition from GOP lawmakers - and there are few signs so far any Republican will sign onto it. They say it's a progressive budget-busting measure that's unnecessary after Congress allocated $900 billion in additional pandemic aid in December.
"There are lots of things in there that have nothing to do with the stated purpose of the bill," Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the right-leaning American Action Forum, said in an interview.
Brian Riedl, a senior fellow and tax expert at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, told Insider that Republicans are balking at the minimum wage bump, enhanced
"Republicans aren't going to agree to all of that," Riedl said. "Republicans just did $900 billion, why do they have to do $1.8 trillion more?"
"This is ten times too big," Holtz-Eakin said.
Democrats argue too small is more dangerous than too big
Democrats are pushing for aggressive federal spending to combat the pandemic, saying doing too little is a much bigger danger than going big. Many point to the slow economic recovery after the 2008 financial crisis as a critical lesson in the peril of enacting an inadequate stimulus package.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell recently downplayed the risks of deficit spending and has repeatedly indicated he favors strong federal spending to restore job growth in the
"We are still very far from a strong labor market whose benefits are broadly shared," Powell said in a speech last week. He said the actual unemployment rate was likely near 10% instead of 6.3% after accounting for certain economic trends.
Given their narrow control of the Senate, Democrats are relying on a legislative maneuver called reconciliation to approve the rescue package with a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of the 60 typically required to defeat a filibuster.
Democrats' use of reconciliation has also generated criticism among Republicans. Some argue it undercuts Biden's campaign pledges of restoring bipartisanship in Washington, and say it could make it tougher for the Biden administration to cut deals on other elements of his agenda, including infrastructure.
"Do unto others as you would have them do to you," G. William Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said in an interview, adding that reconciliation is "being used in a way that is very partisan and it may cause friction down the road."
Hoagland, a former senior Republican aide for the Senate Budget Committee, said that Republicans have "misused" the process in the past.
Republicans used the reconciliation process to approve the 2017 tax law without Democratic support during President Donald Trump's term in office. They also used it to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act that same year.
The Biden administration is arguing that its package is bipartisan because it is popular with voters, and say the onus is on the GOP to explain its opposition.
"If they make a decision, Sen. McConnell [and] the Republicans in Congress, to vote against the will of their constituents, I would suggest you ask them why that's smart politically," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a news briefing on Tuesday.
A group of 10 Senate Republicans led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine initially pitched a $618 billion stimulus counteroffer, but Democrats rejected that as too meager. Still, there are signs of ongoing negotiations between the White House and Republicans.
"The president called me on Sunday and we had a good discussion," Collins told Insider on Thursday. "I am talking with our 10 Republicans to see if there's some flexibility on the number."
Biden is expected to kick off several days of selling his domestic agenda on Tuesday, beginning with a CNN town hall on his economic relief package later in the evening.
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