As Congressional Democrats are considering using a parliamentary procedure to pass another massive round of COVID-19 relief with a simple majority in the Senate, some Republicans are urging their colleagues to reconsider taking that road.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) took to the Senate floor to allege that Congressional Democrats were trying to use budget reconciliation — which allows the Senate to pass certain bills with just 51-votes — as a “back door method to eliminate the filibuster.”
President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that would send Americans $1,400 direct payments and provide funding for vaccine distribution. However, the bill also has measures that Republicans have balked at, such as a provision to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Cornyn went on to suggest that Democrats should have “learned a lesson” about changing rules to pass legislation or approve nominees with a simple majority as he cited their decision to eliminate the judicial filibuster — which Republicans used to push through hundreds of federal judicial nominees and three Supreme Court justices with simple majority votes.
“There are inherent and perhaps unintentional consequences of changing the rules of a place where your power is never permanently guaranteed,” Cornyn said.
“Chipping away at the rights of the minority may help you now. But you’re sure to regret that someday. Just as Democrats now regret the day Harry Reid cleared an easy path for hundreds of conservative federal judges.”
Watch the video below:
He also suggested the decision on whether or not to use reconciliation to pass a relief bill will be a test of Biden’s call for bipartisan cooperation. Cornyn suggested the president could encourage Senate Democrats to work with Republicans to pass another package.
Biden has previously said he hopes to win over Republican support for his proposed legislation. However, he said, “The COVID relief has to pass. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts.”
Biden also agreed to meet with 10 Senate Republicans on Monday to discuss their proposed COVID-19 relief package, which is a third-of his proposed bill.
If Biden can win over at least ten Republican senators and all 50 Democrats, they could pass the package without using budget reconciliation.
However, Congressional Democrats are making preparations to use budget reconciliation to pass another relief package. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) filed a joint budget resolution that opens the door for Congress to use reconciliation to pass a relief bill.
“Congress must pursue a bold and robust course of action. It makes no sense to pinch pennies when so many Americans are struggling,” Schumer said in a speech on Monday.
He added, “[It] is the first step in giving Congress an additional legislative tool to quickly pass the COVID relief legislation. The resolution, if passed by both chambers of Congress, will provide instructions for the House and Senate committees to begin work.”