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Biden signals support for Senate Democrats moving on COVID relief without GOP backing

by Allison Pecorin and Trish Turner | Story Source    Saturday January 30, 2021 - 3:02 AM
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* Covid relief *
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Biden signals support for Senate Democrats moving on COVID relief without GOP backing
With Republican opposition growing to the size of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal, President Joe Biden on Friday expressed his clearest support yet for Senate Democrats to use a fast-track budgetary tool that would allow the legislation to pass with a simple majority.

Asked by reporters as he left the White House, "Do you support passing COVID relief through budget reconciliation?," Biden answered, "I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But COVID relief has to pass. There's no ifs, ands or buts."

Biden had focused repeatedly on has repeatedly called for a bipartisan approach, reaching across the aisle to try to rally support only to be stonewalled by opposition. A few Republicans have expressed a willingness to consider a far smaller, "targeted" package, but none has come close to supporting the level of spending advocated by Biden and congressional Democrats.

But Biden, who met with newly-installed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Friday morning, said he's focused on providing broader relief than most Republicans can stomach.

"We have learned from past crises; the risk is not doing too much, the risk is not doing enough," Biden said.

MORE: Biden's COVID relief package presents 1st test of his deal-making skills Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer signaled that Democrats are preparing to move forward with budget reconciliation: a complex, fast-track process that requires just a simple majority to pass legislation rather than the usual 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and move forward. In a Senate now split 50-50, the procedure could allow Democrats to pass legislation without a single Republican in favor, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to cast a tie-breaking vote.

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