With a Senate split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris the deciding vote, Democrats are plotting ways to pass spending bills without one Senate GOP vote, including $1.9 trillion more of coronavirus relief and a $15 federal minimum wage.
The process is called budget reconciliation, which permits Senate bills to pass with a simple majority and takes the filibuster out of play. Democrats will have to seek ways to get around the Senate parliamentarian – and they are surely coming up with them, The Hill reported.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted Wednesday:
"If Democrats are to address the enormous crises facing working people, and keep faith with the campaign promises we made, we must go forward aggressively with the Senate reconciliation process. There is no alternative. Now is the time for bold action."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., already has a majority, albeit slim, but she is plotting her House Democrat bills with the Senate's reconciliation in mind.
"We're going to bring a budget resolution to the floor next week," she told reporters Thursday. "By the end of the week, we'll be finished with the budget resolution, which will be about reconciliation, if needed."
The Senate parliamentarian has the Byrd Rule to consider with an item like the $15 minimum wage, per The Hill.
But a former deputy chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says that should not be difficult to get around.
"In the end, this is a call the Constitution gives the vice president or, in her absence, the Senate's president pro tempore to make," former deputy chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Bill Dauster wrote in a Roll Call op-ed last week.
"Vice President Kamala Harris or, in her absence, President Pro Tempore Patrick J. Leahy are empowered to make this call. If the Senate parliamentarian does not advise them that Congress can include the minimum wage in budget reconciliation, Harris or Leahy should exercise their constitutional authority to say that it can."
As long as the filibuster remains in the Senate, the White House sounded support for getting its agenda through by any strategy necessary, per the report.
"Our priority is on getting it through and not what the parliamentary process is," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
Still, the continued bending of the rules worries some red state Democrats.
"I'm not sure it's the smartest thing to do," House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., told Politico. "You do have to worry about precedent."
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