Sunday, April 18

Democrats seek to approve covid-19 aid package

(CNN) — As US President Joe Biden urges Democrats to stand united against obstacles that may arise in the marathon vote later this week, Republicans are preparing to make the last hours of Democratic efforts to pass your covid-19 relief package are politically painful and physically exhausting.

Republicans are aiming to put Democrats in a bind not only in making their bill more specific, something some moderates have been calling for, but also in removing specific and controversial provisions in the covid relief bill. . Several Republicans, for example, had been planning amendments to get Democrats to vote vigorously on two transit projects in New York and California that they, and some Democrats, had criticized for having nothing to do with covid relief. Those bills were removed from the bill Tuesday night.

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Multiple Republican members and aides familiar with planning tell CNN the plan is twofold: trying to pull Democratic members out of some key amendment votes to demonstrate differences within the Democratic ranks, as well as create some campaign moments that it can be turned into political ads later. It is a similar strategy that they already deployed in February during the initial vote on the bill.

“These are television commercials,” said Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas. Hold people accountable for their votes. There is not much you can do if you are determined to stick together, there is nothing we can do to change the outcome. If they really want to do this, they probably can.

Unlike the last voting marathon where the amendment votes did not have the power of the law, what is coming will be a real opportunity to change the underlying bill. Any amendment only needs 51 votes to pass, but there is a catch. At the end of the process, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can introduce a final amendment that would remove any changes to the bill. That’s exactly what Schumer did last time to make sure the underlying invoice was intact. Still, Schumer has privately urged Democrats to vote against any emerging Republican amendments.

“I hope we can get some amendments to the bill that improve it, but also in the end, I hope that we do not see another replacement amendment that totally undoes what the Senate had agreed to,” said Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican from Nebraska.

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In his private call with Senate Democrats Tuesday, Biden urged his group to stay in line. But the amendments tabled over the next 48 hours will put Democrats in a difficult position not only to stick together, but also to be consistent. Last time, several amendments were passed with Democratic support, including one that allowed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to continue. Another amendment to prevent high-income people from receiving subsidies was passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support. And a group of eight Democrats voted “yes” to an amendment that would have prohibited undocumented immigrants in the country from receiving relief checks.

“The best campaign ads are the ones that show how a politician was for something before he was against it,” a Republican senator told CNN about planned strategy for the future.

Democrats also face internal divisions over how to handle an amendment planned by someone on their own side. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, has said he plans to introduce an amendment that would raise the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. While Schumer has privately encouraged Democrats to vote against every Republican amendment introduced during the vote, many Democrats believe that Sanders’ amendment violates the spirit of unity among Democrats and is causing heartburn.
“Sanders has created the most difficult vote for Democrats,” a Democratic adviser told CNN.

Adding the amendment to the bill goes against the MP’s guidance and removing it from the bill would put responsibility on Schumer, a difficult political position for the majority leader.

Democrats are still working to finalize their relief bill in the next 24 hours with a number of outstanding issues ranging from increasing funding for broadband to including money for rural hospitals through the still-pending provider assistance fund. . Several advisers familiar with the talks remain optimistic the legislation will come up for consideration on Wednesday. Once that happens, there will be 20 hours of debate before the vote.

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