Schumer: First Order of Business in Democratic-Controlled Senate is Emergency COVID-19 Relief
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday a Senate under his control would focus first on passing further emergency COVID-19 relief and confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees.
“As our first order of legislative business, please prepare to address additional COVID emergency relief legislation,” Schumer said in a letter to fellow Democrats.
The caucus is poised to renew the push for $2,000 direct payments, an idea first floated by President Donald Trump that quickly won support from Democrats and some Republicans, but not GOP Senate leadership. Democrats also want to provide more money for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and funding for small businesses, schools, and state and local governments.
The Senate, before the end of the year, passed a $900 billion stimulus package that included $600 checks, money for colleges, and funding for food stamps.
Schumer could become the Senate’s majority leader after Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, fresh off wins in Georgia runoff elections, are sworn in, along with Alex Padilla, who is replacing Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The composition of the body will be 50-50, but if Democrats take the presidency, the tiebreaking vote will go to Harris in her role as president of the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked the narrow bill that would have upped the $600 payments by $1,400. He later introduced his own bill, which included other issues. That bill was never brought for a vote.
Besides COVID-19 relief, Schumer said the Senate will work on “bold legislation to defeat the climate crisis by investing in clean infrastructure and manufacturing.” And the body will hear from and vote on Biden’s nominations, particularly Cabinet nominees.
With committees under Democratic control in the Senate, oversight on key issues will be conducted, including a close examination of “the rise of violent extremist groups, white supremacists, and violent fringe conspiracy theorists,” Schumer said, linking those to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol in Washington.
The Democrat made no mention of an impeachment trial. The House of Representatives is planning to vote on impeaching Trump this week. Because Democrats have a majority in the lower chamber, it’s expected to go through.
Biden on Monday said he spoke to House leaders about having an impeachment trial take place in the Senate for half of each day. The other half would be dedicated to “getting my people nominated and confirmed” and approving a fresh relief package, he added.
A number of Republicans have said they oppose efforts to impeach Trump again, noting that Jan. 20, when his term is scheduled to end, is fast approaching.
“To drum up another impeachment proceeding seems politically opportunistic and completely tone deaf to a nation that needs to heal,” Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) said in a tweet.
Trump told reporters outside the White House earlier Tuesday that the impeachment push “is causing tremendous anger.”