Democrat congressional leaders on Monday introduced a budget resolution that will let lawmakers pass a fresh COVID-19 relief package without any Republican support.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the joint budget resolution.
The measure is the first step in potentially enacting a budget reconciliation bill, which would let Democrats pass the package even if no Republicans back it because they hold majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“Congress has a responsibility to quickly deliver immediate comprehensive relief to the American people hurting from COVID-19,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a statement.
“We are hopeful Republicans will work in a bipartisan manner to support assistance for their communities, but the American people cannot afford any more delays and the Congress must act to prevent more needless suffering,” they added.
Congressional Democrats have united behind President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package, which features another round of stimulus checks, funding for states, and an increase in the minimum wage.
A number of Republicans have balked at the price tag, pointing out that money remains to be spent from a $900 billion stimulus bill passed late last year.
A group of 10 Senate Republicans unveiled a counteroffer on Monday that totals $618 billion. The group was scheduled to meet with Biden at the White House on Monday evening to discuss their respective plans.
“He certainly supports them moving forward to move a package ahead,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington shortly before Pelosi and Schumer announced their resolution.
Biden is leaving “the mechanics through which they move” up to Democratic lawmakers, Psaki added. “He is leaving it up to them and he believes there is still room for bipartisan support for this package which is why having this meeting and why he will remain engaged and why he has asked the senior team to remain engaged.”
The president feels the Republican package is too small, according to Psaki.
The smaller proposal cuts the amount spread through checks, making them more targeted. It also decreases funding for schools and doesn’t include a minimum wage hike. Money for COVID-19 vaccines is roughly the same.
“One area that we decrease, he has 170 billion for schools. Now, we’ve already given schools 110 percent of what they usually receive from the federal government. Parochial schools have opened with a fraction of that money, charter schools are opened,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), one of the 10 Republicans, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“The real problem is public schools. That issue is not money. That issue is teachers’ unions telling their teachers not to go to work. And putting 170 billion towards teachers’ unions priorities takes care of a Democratic constituency group but it wastes our federal taxpayer dollars for something which is not the problem.”