GOP demands Biden work with them on relief bill they already swore to block


Democrats are moving forward with plans to pass coronavirus relief that Senate Republicans cannot block.

Senate Republicans are up in arms that Democrats are moving forward with coronavirus relief legislation that they cannot stymie with the filibuster, claiming that passing another round of relief on a party-line vote is against the "unity" President Joe Biden called for in his inaugural address.

However, many of these very same Republicans who are demanding Democrats negotiate a "bipartisan" coronavirus relief package have said they have no intention of passing more coronavirus relief at all.

What's more, the same Republicans complaining that Democrats are betraying Biden's "unity" pledge with their tactics to pass coronavirus relief used the same tactics back in 2017 to pass Donald Trump's policy agenda.

The fight boils down to Democrats' usage of what's called "budget reconciliation" to pass Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

Reconciliation only requires a majority vote to pass the Senate, rather than requiring 60 votes to move forward. Republicans used reconciliation twice under Trump in 2017: First in a failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and second to pass the deficit-busting GOP tax law that heavily favored tax cuts for the richest while providing little relief to the neediest Americans.

Given Democrats have 50 seats in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris adding another tie-breaking vote, that means Democrats would need to convince 10 Republicans to support Biden's relief package.

Democrats do not believe getting 10 GOP senators onboard with Biden's plan is possible, and thus they are laying the groundwork to use reconciliation.

"Four years later and the situation is nearly a mirror image. Dems gearing up for a massive virus relief package no Republican supports, with budget reconciliation the obvious route," Bloomberg News reporter Steven Dennis tweeted.

Republicans complaining about Democrats' potential use of reconciliation have conveniently left out the fact that they both do not support Biden's coronavirus relief bill and that they were fine with using reconciliation to pass Trump's agenda in 2017.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said he is "disturbed" that Senate Democrats would reconciliation for coronavirus relief, even though he said Biden's plan has no chance of gaining any Republican votes, as well as the fact that he supported reconciliation to repeal the ACA and pass the GOP tax law.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) also said utilizing reconciliation is against unity, even though he also supported using reconciliation for the Obamacare repeal and GOP tax law.

"If it occurs, it will likely be done without a single Republican vote," Barrasso said. "This isn't unity. It's not bipartisanship. It's not healing our divisions. This is a time for President Biden to heed the words of his own inaugural address."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who said she does not support Biden's coronavirus relief package, also demanded Biden not use reconciliation to pass it.

"The president is sincere in his commitment to bipartisanship. That’s the way he always operated when he was a senator. And from my conversations with him since the election, it seems clear to me that he wants to continue to operate that way," Collins (R-ME) told Politico.

Democrats, for their part, are crying foul at the GOP outrage, saying that Republicans have already said they would block coronavirus relief and thus have no foot to stand on to complain that Democrats will move forward without needing GOP votes.

"You have to have fully rotted dc brain to see Republicans announce they refuse to vote for Covid relief and then ask Democrats why they aren’t being bipartisan," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.