Detail

Senate Weighs Timelines for COVID-19 Relief Bill and Impeachment Trial; President Biden Signs Climate Executive Order

  • January 29, 2021

U.S. Capitol evening

Senate policymakers this week began to consider President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package proposal after Congressional leaders agreed to delay opening arguments in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump until Feb. 9. (Reuters, Jan. 25 and PBS, Jan. 26)

  • As an alternative to a trial, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) yesterday said he will introduce a resolution to censure the former president, citing the 14th amendment to bar Trump from holding future office. At least 10 Senate Republicans would have to vote for censure to move the resolution forward, even though the GOP has shown little support for conviction in the impeachment proceeding. (The Hill and The Washington Post, Jan. 28)

  • With the impeachment trial date set, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he is aiming to pass a pandemic aid package by mid-March, when unemployment benefits will expire. (Forbes, Jan. 25, 2021 and Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 22, 2020)

  • Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also said this week that if Republicans continue to reject President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal, a Democrat-only pandemic stimulus plan will move forward next week using budget reconciliation – a process that requires a simple majority vote in the Senate, thereby avoiding a filibuster. Vice President Kamala Harris could break a tie vote in the 50-50 Senate. (The Hill, Jan. 29)

  • President Biden said Monday that he is open to negotiating a bipartisan approach to the next pandemic aid package with Congress, but stated “time is of the essence” and that “[t]he decision to use reconciliation will depend on how these negotiations go.” (Bloomberg and CNBC, Jan. 25) 

  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) – a centrist Republican who recently announced he will not seek reelection in 2022 due to partisan gridlock – said the use of reconciliation “would exacerbate the partisanship around here; it would make it more difficult to find common ground.” (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 26)

Presidential Executive Order on Climate

  • In related policy news, President Biden issued an executive order on Wednesday to “tackl[e] the climate crisis at home and abroad.” (Axios, Jan. 28, New York Times, Jan. 27).  The order aims for the U.S. to achieve a “net-zero emissions” economy by 2050.

  • The climate order directs federal agencies to determine the U.S.’s carbon reduction target under the terms of the Paris climate agreement, and maximize opportunities to “create well-paying union jobs to build a modern and sustainable infrastructure.”

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