Congress Moves Forward with Reconciliation
Last week, the House of Representatives and Senate advanced measures that would allow the Biden administration to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill without facing a filibuster in the Senate. The House passed their version of the budget resolution last Wednesday, and then passed the Senate's version as amended later in the week. The Senate passed the budget resolution after holding a so-called "vote-a-rama," a series of lengthy votes on Republican amendments to the resolution. The Senate ultimately adopted the budget resolution by a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote.
The next step in the budget reconciliation process is for House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over portions of the proposed COVID-19 relief bill to draft the requisite legislative language. The committee products will then be combined into one bill. The House will begin committee work this week. The Senate will be delayed as a result of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, which will begin this week. Passage of a final COVID-19 relief bill is expected in mid-March.