Reconciling with Senate procedure

This piece was originally published in the February 5, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

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Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

“We have the opportunity to give hope to the American people.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with an optimistic prediction for the country, topping off a long night of Senate Republicans trying (and failing) to derail the urgent pandemic relief package

72% of Americans support Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Let’s get it done.

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IN THE NEWS

  • The Senate and the House have officially completed the first of many procedural steps needed to get a much-needed economic stimulus and pandemic relief package on President Biden’s desk. With the framework of Biden’s American Rescue Plan as their guardrails, senators debated and voted on amendments until the early hours of Friday morning, wrapping up around 5:30 AM with a 51–50 vote (thanks, VP) to continue on to the next step. The House followed suit this afternoon. Why is this all so complicated? If you’re confused, don’t worry — even people who spend their lives studying Senate procedure don’t always get it.
  • These late-night vote sessions on a seemingly endless string of amendments are part of a process called budget reconciliation. It’s been used a number of times to pass major legislation (remember that 2017 tax bill?) and it’s our best shot at getting people the relief they need right now given Senate Republican leaders’ lack of interest in joining their colleagues’ efforts to help suffering Americans. We’ll let this handy explainer from the Washington Post take it from here, and stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks as Congress moves through the reconciliation process.
  • More people around the world have now been vaccinated for COVID-19 than the amount who have contracted the virus. Earlier this week, the total number of recorded COVID-19 cases — 104.1 million — was surpassed by a growing global vaccination total of 104.9 million.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • Former Obama administration officials are advising Congress to go big and push for a robust economic relief package that meets the moment. In a letter to Congress on Friday, more than 200 former staffers and agency heads warned Congress not to cave to “deficit fear mongers” who they warn will seek to water down Biden’s proposal and waste precious time while Americans continue to suffer from the coronavirus crisis.
  • “The only thing we can’t afford is to underfund America’s recovery,” the letter says. “Every dollar we spend to strengthen our nation during this time of crisis is a downpayment that will pay for itself and help our country thrive in the future.” The officials said Congress must “learn the lessons from the last economic crisis and pass a large stimulus package to get us back on track.”
  • States across the country are quietly considering discriminatory legislation that would chip away at the rights of transgender Americans. Lawmakers in more than a dozen state legislatures have introduced bills that would limit health care for trans kids, and nearly 20 states are considering legislation that could ban trans kids from participating in sports. Click here to find out if there’s an anti-trans bill in your state. Activists worry that legal battles over these laws could make their way to an unfriendly and quite frankly, rigged Supreme Court given the recent confirmation of yet another right-wing justice last fall.
  • We’re on the brink of another big, national event that we can’t celebrate normally this year due to the pandemic. That’s right — Super Bowl weekend is upon us. Consider this a sign that it’s not worth it to put yourself and others at risk by celebrating at a bar or other crowded environment. According to the New York Times, the best way to watch is at home with members of your household (or virtually with friends!). The least safe way to watch? Indoors, with people outside your household. So for everyone’s sake, don’t be that person who spends Super Bowl Sunday at a bar.

WHAT WE’RE READING

This piece was originally published in the February 5, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

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