Congress last week passed a budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2021 to begin the reconciliation process; the resolution passed with narrow margins in the House and Senate, with votes of 219–209 and 51–50, respectively. The reconciliation process will allow President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief proposal to move forward without Republican support.
Senators filed hundreds of amendments to the resolution, some of which were added before final passage. An amendment from Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) garnered widespread support for allocating new dollars to the Provider Relief Fund; the amendment passed 99–1.
With the budget resolution passed, House and Senate committees are actively hammering out the details of COVID-19 relief under reconciliation. Democrats are expected to include many provisions in President Biden’s proposal, including $1,400 direct payments to Americans, funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccines, funding for state and local governments, and an extension of unemployment benefits set to expire March 14.
This week, House committees will finalize their sections of the reconciliation bill and send them to the Committee on the Budget, which will compile them and send the full reconciliation package to the House floor. House leadership aims to hold a vote on the reconciliation bill the week of Feb. 22, allowing time for the Senate to act before the unemployment benefits expire.
Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial Commences
The Senate has begun the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. The House impeached Trump last month for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Both Democrats and Republicans have signaled they prefer a short and swift trial. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will preside over the trial in his role as president pro tempore, and nine members of the House — chosen by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — will serve as impeachment managers, effectively prosecuting the case against Trump.
OMB Director Confirmation Hearings Scheduled
Two Senate committees this week will hold confirmation hearings for Neera Tanden, President Biden’s nominee to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
OMB is an important policy agency, influencing and finalizing administrative regulations. Tanden, who has extensive experience in health policy, will testify before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Committee on the Budget. Tanden previously worked at the Department of Health and Human Services under the Obama administration and served as an adviser to Hillary Clinton in multiple capacities.