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Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

  • The timetable is uncertain, but the clock likely won't start ticking until Thursday, and final passage may not come until this weekend.

What to expect: The Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation must send their cost "score" of the legislation to the Senate, which is expected Thursday. The chamber will then begin 20 hours of debate.

  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told a radio station in his state he plans to force the clerk to read the 600- to 700-page bill.
  • That would likely tack another 10 hours to the 20 hours allotted for debate, Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters.
  • Along the way, the GOP will offer amendments both related and unrelated to the legislation, requiring a string of uncomfortable votes for Democrats.

What they're saying: "We’re really going to continue to hammer on all the nonsense that’s non-COVID related that has been packed into this Democratic wish list," Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told reporters.

  • "I would expect a very long night into the next day and keep going on. A lot to still cover,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.).
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said Democrats can afford to burn a day or two, but, "I just feel sorry for the reading clerk."

The big picture: Democrats are fast approaching Biden's deadline for signing the American Rescue Plan Act before many coronavirus relief benefits expire on March 14.

  • While the bill must still be reconciled with the version the House passed, Democratic leaders tell Axios they remain hopeful the measure will be signed into law by the end of next week.

Go deeper

DCCC ad campaign takes aim at Republicans who voted against relief package

Screen shot: DCCCVideo/via YouTube

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will release 10 new digital ads targeting vulnerable Republicans who voted against President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: The ad buy is small, but a larger sign that Democrats think hitting Republicans on COVID relief is a winning message in swing congressional districts, especially as polling shows broad public support for the bill including among the GOP.

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.

38 mins ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.