As House Democrats prepare for a vote Wednesday to impeach President Trump after the deadly riot on the United States Capitol last week, the new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) , doubled its pledge to pass legislation that will increase out-of-pocket payments in the latest stimulus bill to $ 2,000 as well as additional relief measures for Covid-19, including state and local aid and more money for the distribution of vaccines.
In one letter to fellow Democrats on Tuesday, Schumer said Democrats would “immediately” start working on those priorities once the new Democrat-led Senate is in place, and called on lawmakers to consider the Covid Emergency Relief Act -19 as the “first legislative agenda” of the new Senate.
Schumer’s assurance comes amid fears that a potentially lengthy impeachment trial could derail the Democrats and President-elect Biden’s ambitious plans to inject billions of dollars in additional stimulus into the economy.
In an interview with the Buffalo News On Monday, Schumer argued that the impeachment efforts would not interfere with Congress’ ability to provide more economic relief.
“We’re going to have to do several things at once but [we’ve] must also move the agenda forward, ”he said. “Yes, we have to do both.”
Schumer is also considering a little-used authority to quickly bring the Senate back to session (currently scheduled to return on January 19, a day before the inauguration) and allow an impeachment trial to begin before Biden takes office, the Washington post reported – this would speed up the timeline, but also require the accession of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the current Senate majority leader.
“The work of COVID emergency relief is far from over,” Schumer wrote. “The Democrats wanted to do a lot more in the last bill and promised to do more, if given the chance, to increase direct payments to a total of $ 2,000 – we’ll get it done.
President-elect Biden said on Monday that while his first priority is a new stimulus bill, he has had discussions with congressional lawmakers about dividing time in the Senate each day to “fork” the economic aid and confirmations through impeachment efforts. “Can we spend half a day dealing with the impeachment, and half a day getting my people appointed and confirmed in the Senate and taking action?” He asked, noting that he had not yet heard the Senate parliamentarian say if this method would be possible. The Senate would normally begin impeachment immediately after receiving the articles from the House, so the parliamentarian should intervene. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (DS.C.) offered an alternative over the weekend, suggesting the House could wait to send the impeachment issue to the Senate – even if the body votes for impeachment this week – to allow the Senate to focus on reviving and confirming new cabinet members during the first 100 days of the fledgling Biden administration.
Biden is expected to release details of his multibillion-dollar economic stimulus package later this week, which would add to the $ 3.5 trillion in stimulus spending the federal government has already authorized. The price of the plan is not yet known, but it will almost certainly include provisions to increase the stimulus checks from $ 600 in the latest relief bill to $ 2,000, more expanded federal unemployment benefits and money for vaccine distribution, small businesses and schools.
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