Monday , June 21 2021

Senate will advance Covid bill with or without Republican support, Majority Leader says

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Brian Deese, director of the President’s National Economic Council, indicated the White House’s focus on Covid-19 relief was on a comprehensive relief package in an interview Tuesday, telling CNBC, “We are at a moment where we need decisive action we need to move quickly, and we need to move comprehensively.”

Asked if the focus was on a bipartisan bill or a “big” bill, Deese told Becky Quick, “We’ve learned over the last 10 months what happens if you address this crisis piecemeal. We need to move comprehensively and we need to move quickly, so that’s really our focus. We certainly want to move with as much as we can.” 

Pressed if that meant going for budget reconciliation, Deese said, “Well, look, we need to do what it’s going to take to solve this crisis — we can’t get schools open if we don’t get control of the virus, we can’t get control of the virus unless we invest in the resources we need, we can’t get people back to work if we don’t get the schools open, so you know, we need to tackle this comprehensively.”

“We’re very open to people’s input, ideas, that’s the process that’s happening right now, but we do need to move with speed here, so we don’t find ourselves, a month or two or three from now, in a place where the virus is in isn’t getting under control, the economy is in a worse place, and we’re all asking ourselves why we didn’t act,” he added.

On criticisms that coronavirus relief involves sending checks to Americans who don’t need them, Deese balked at the idea the package proposed by the Biden administration isn’t targeted enough, telling CNBC, “if you look at the provisions of the American rescue plan, very targeted: hunger, homelessness, unemployment insurance.”

“Certainly, if there are ways to make that provision and other provisions more effective that’s something that we’re open to that, we’ll have conversations about, but I think if you look in the aggregate, this is an approach that is very much targeted at those workers in those businesses that are struggling the most in this economy,” he continued.

More on reconciliation: Senate Democrats have been laying the groundwork to use a rare procedural tactic known as reconciliation to pass major parts of the Covid-19 relief package if Republicans stand in the way, according to multiple Democratic aides.

While leadership has yet to give the go ahead publicly and negotiations with Republicans are still getting started, aides tell CNN that the process is complicated and arcane, which is why they are getting ready now in case they have to use it.

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