The good news is one very powerful Democrat—Sen. Ron Wyden, who is now chair of the Finance Committee and thus in charge of this—is opposed to providing the help to fewer people, saying: “I understand the desire to ensure those most in need receive checks, but families who received the first two checks will be counting on a third check to pay the bills.” Or donate more to their local food bank. Or help a struggling family member. Or just feel a little bit more secure knowing that they’ve got some cushion. But really, we’re in a global pandemic and it should not make a damn difference what people do with their money.
It shouldn’t be an issue at this point. Even Sen. Joe Manchin has ceded to the initial, more generous package, saying: “If it’s $1.9 trillion, so be it.” It’s hard to characterize this as anything other than dumb and self-defeating when it’s pretty clear that Democrats are on board and Biden has already made it clear to Republicans that he doesn’t need them. So why they’re doing this—all the while talking about “going big”—is a mystery. And unnecessary. And counterproductive. White House adviser Steve Ricchetti told PunchbowlNews that “checks and the direct assistance, you know the the additional $1,400 in the checks is vitally important and was really certainly at the top of the list for us in terms of what we think is important and was a campaign commitment.” So why undermine that now?
Anyway, while Democrats continue to negotiate with each other, the process moves forward in the Senate. Starting Thursday afternoon, they’ll have the vote-a-rama, the unlimited offering of amendments to the budget resolution that will go all possibly all night, with literally hundreds of “gotcha” amendments from Republicans. It’s going to be a long two days.