Feb 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Chamber warns Biden not to submit to progressive wish

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is seen Tuesday as he discusses the Democrats' $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer talks about the Democrats' $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal Tuesday. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging the Biden administration not to go around Republicans to pass the president’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, a move being pushed by the Democrats’ progressive wing.

Why it matters: The historically conservative group fears that if President Biden submits, it could foil any shot at bipartisanship for future legislation, such as highly anticipated plans for infrastructure and climate change bills.

Behind the scenes: The Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Biden and members of Congress on Tuesday outlining the areas of agreement in the different parties' proposals and urging compromise.

  • Neil Bradley, the chamber's chief policy officer, told Axios he's worried all of Biden's talk of unity could be undone with a single decision to use the budget reconciliation process to ram the stimulus through with a simple majority vote.
  • "When you start by doing things on a partisan basis, particularly when there's the opportunity for negotiation, it gets really hard to then go back to bipartisan discussions," he said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed some of these concerns at her daily briefing, telling reporters, "Republicans can engage and see their ideas adopted" during reconciliation.

  • Through that process, Democrats could pass the package with a simple majority vote, instead of the usual 60 votes needed for major legislation.
  • "At any point in the process, a bipartisan bill can pass on the floor. So just creating the option for reconciliation with a budget resolution does not foreclose other legislative options," she said.

On Capitol Hill, Republican leadership is making the same case as the chamber.

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Democrats have chosen "a totally partisan path" by forcing the process to move forward via budget reconciliation, which allows them to bypass the GOP.
  • "We're off to a totally partisan start. I think that's unfortunate," the minority leader said.

Biden so far has been toeing the line. He told Senate Democrats during their virtual lunch Tuesday afternoon he wants to continue working toward a compromise — but the proposal given to him Monday by 10 Republicans was too small.

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