That doesn’t mean that the impact this could have on the debt and deficit isn’t real. That doesn’t mean that Republicans aren’t going to argue that this plan isn’t needed. It’s true that there are still billions from the last package that haven’t gone out the door. Many Republicans argue it’s irresponsible to spend more when you don’t even know what you need. Those are arguments they can make to the public. But, Democrats are feeling confident that they can win that public fight.
A bit on the mechanics
One Democratic aide familiar with the Senate’s process told CNN that the plan is for the House and Senate committees to work in coordination over the next week and a half to hammer out legislative text. Throughout the drafting, Democrats in the Senate will be consulting with the Senate parliamentarian to make sure their plans are actually allowed under the rules that govern reconciliation. The House will vote to pass the plan first. Then, the Senate will move.
Before the Senate goes to the floor, they will engage in multiple meetings with Senate Republican staff and the Senate parliamentarian on the merits of each provision they want included and whether the provisions meets the strict rules of what can be allowed through reconciliation. The fight over the minimum wage is expected to be a massive one here, but there will be others as well. This process happens in private over several meetings, but it’s crucial to determining the scope of what Democrats can do.
The goal is to be finished and have the bill signed into law by March 14, this Senate aide tells CNN. That gives some time for lawmakers to pass this before unemployment benefits run out at the end of March.
It’s a massive undertaking, but Democrats aren’t working from scratch here. They are going to be taking Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan and making it a bill. A lot of the work has already been done on the front end to make sure every committee has the amount of money they need to make this plan a reality. The House and Senate budgets gave 12 and 11 committees respectively reconciliation instructions. That is a lot. It’s going to be messy. Aides say they are very clear about what they have to do here, and they are confident this can be done swiftly.
Still, there are going to be some intra-party schisms on how this bill ultimately looks. Not all Democrats are comfortable with raising the minimum wage to $15, for example. In New York, that amount might make sense. In Montana and West Virginia — where the cost of living skews much lower — that kind of minimum wage could be the difference between a business staying profitable and not. That’s why you have some Democrats arguing any minimum wage increase should be regional, while others are arguing that it should be phased in.
On power sharing: Why Democrats are still not in control of committees
The organizing resolution hasn’t been passed yet.
But, the talks have dragged on. They’ve been productive. They are close to an agreement, but they have dragged on among staff. The initial fight over the filibuster delayed important talks over other procedural and weedy negotiations. The hope and expectation was that the agreement would look very similar to the power sharing agreement of 2001, but that 2001 agreement only lasted a few months and there are some operational changes that had to be made. It’s taking time, maybe even longer than it should, but aides say they are close. It could be finished as soon as Tuesday.
Keep an eye on Republicans
We are watching to see if House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy finally meets with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Tuesday evening and whether he kicks her off of her committees or waits for House Democrats to make that move.
House Democrats will have a conference call at 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday where this issue could come up. There is some growing concern that forcing Greene off committees through a floor vote could set a dangerous precedent for the future if Republicans take back the House and then use the move to oust Democrats they don’t like from their committee assignments. Usually, this is a call leadership makes. Giving the full House a vote is extremely unusual.