EX-PRESIDENT Donald Trump’s impeachment trial could hamper President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package – including $1,400 stimulus checks and a boost in unemployment benefits.
The House of Representatives sent the article of impeachment against Trump to the Senate on Monday, and Senate leaders have agreed to begin the trial on the week of Feb. 8.
That could slow the passage of Biden’s $1.9trillion Covid relief package for several weeks, Business Insider reported on Monday.
Balancing Trump’s second impeachment and other legislative work is “really hard” for the Senate, Lanhee Chen, who was a GOP policy adviser for Mitt Romney in 2012, told Yahoo Finance on Monday.
“Something like impeachment is an incredibly partisan exercise, it does tend to inflame passions on both sides,” said Chen, a policy fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.
“You’re trying to negotiate a massive stimulus package,” Chen said, while, “you’ve got this process going on impeachment.”
Biden said the two-week delay on Trump’s impeachment trial will help get the Covid-19 relief “up and running,” meaning lawmakers could address stimulus checks this week, according to Yahoo Finance.
However, Biden’s plan faces increasing resistance from Republicans and Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the Senate.
Some Democrats have discussed moving the $1,400 stimulus payments and funds for Covid-19 vaccine distribution into a separate bill for faster approval, if Biden’s whole package faces too many challenges.
If the third stimulus payment passes in the House and Senate by early February, Americans could receive the payments later that month.
But any delays in the process could mean checks won’t be sent until March or April.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration is pushing for the package, knowing that federal unemployment programs will begin expiring on March 14.
“There's an urgency to moving it forward, and [Biden] certainly believes there needs to be progress over the next couple of weeks," Psaki said.
It appears Biden's package will be delayed given Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s demand that Democrats preserve the filibuster, a rule allowing senators to block legislation from advancing unless it meets a 60-vote threshold.
Already, the filibuster has slowed the confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet nominees.
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who will be the new chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said Democrats could soon take a budget reconciliation measure to pass Biden’s package in a party-line majority vote.
“What we cannot do is wait weeks and weeks and months and months to go forward," Sanders said on Sunday.
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