White House economic adviser Brian Deese and Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zientz held a call Thursday with Senate Democrats as they grapple with whether to cut a slimmed-down deal or use a process known as reconciliation to bypass the Senate’s 60-vote rule to avoid a filibuster.
“The sentiment is this: We would like Republicans to work with us to be part of the solution to deliver emergency help, but we can’t wait, it’s urgent, and we need to double-track this process,” Democrat Sen. Chris Van Hollen from Maryland, who was on the call, told reporters. “So we will continue to reach out to Republicans, but I’m a big supporter of having an insurance policy in place through reconciliation.”
The pivot to reconciliation comes after Republicans roundly rejected Biden’s plan, balking at the price tag. It puts Democrats in a predicament: Accept a smaller bill at the cost of political blowback for failing to do enough, or kick off the Biden presidency by passing a sweeping bill on a partisan basis.
If Democrats don’t go the bipartisan route, “that’s going to send a signal to America, and to Republicans throughout Congress, that this president’s message of unity was rhetoric as opposed to substance,” Sen. Todd Young, an Indian Republican, told reporters.