- The Washington Times - Monday, February 1, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer revealed their 2021 budget on Monday, triggering the process that could allow them to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill without any Republican support.

The aggressive move comes even as GOP senators were negotiating with Mr. Biden on a smaller deal they said could win bipartisan support.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer, though, said they need a backup plan to be able to drive Mr. Biden’s proposal through if the GOP won’t sign off.

“The cost of inaction is high and growing, and the time for decisive action is now,” they said in a joint statement.

Their bill creates the space to dig the government $1.9 trillion deeper into debt, but leaves the details up to future legislation.

Republicans called it a blank check for mischief, and said it belied Mr. Biden’s calls for unity.

“Democrats are desperate to use this process to achieve any number of policies that will reward special interests while harming America’s working class, increasing the cost of living for American families, destroying jobs, and weakening the economy,” said Rep. Jason Smith, ranking Republican on the Budget Committee.

Uncle Sam is already four months into fiscal year 2021, operating on spending caps agreed to in 2019.

But since Congress never adopted an official budget for the year, Democrats can belatedly write one, using the speedy process to circumvent Republicans’ filibuster in the Senate.

Democrats’ plan calls for another round of stimulus checks, another round of unemployment benefits, and $350 billion in bailout money for state and local governments who say they face their own budget squeeze.

Monday’s move is just the beginning of an arduous slog with plenty of pitfalls for Democrats.

The resolution still must be approved on the House and Senate floors. If that hurdle is cleared, congressional committees then must write bills to carry out the plan. Those committee bills are then stitched together in what’s known as a reconciliation package, which must then pass Congress and be signed by the president.

Mr. Schumer insisted there’s still a window for Republicans to cooperate, but GOP lawmakers last week said using the budget process would send the wrong signal.

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