Senate GOP Forces Reading 700-Page Biden COVID-19 Relief Bill In Bid To Delay Passage
Senate Republicans have no means to stop President Joe Biden‘s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, but they are using every means possible to delay the bill even just through the weekend.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) is leading the GOP charge to delay the relief package. The senator says he is trying to recruit at least 12 senators to his cause, saying he intends to prolong the vote as long as possible.
Johnson is a dedicated supporter of former President Donald Trump and was heavily criticized in February for supporting conspiracy theories that rioters from the Capitol insurrection on January 6 were actors meant to look like Trump supporters.
Johnson will force Senate clerks to read aloud the entire 700-page bill on the Senate floor, which will likely take more than 12 hours. “Right now I’ve got a fair amount of support in the conference,” said Johnson. “We’ll see how that support continues in the wee hours of the morning and into tomorrow, Saturday, into Sunday.”
Johnson intends to keep the debate of Biden’s American Rescue Plan open long enough to sway public opinion away from the bill. Seventy-seven percent of voters support the American Rescue Plan in its current form, including 59% of polled Republicans according to a Morning Consult-Politico poll.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) commented on the GOP effort on Wednesday. “Regrettably, it seems that too many of our Republican colleagues are resorting to the same predictable objections they raise about nearly every proposal supported by a Democrat,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what’s in the bill, everything my colleagues oppose is a, quote, a liberal wish list.”
Biden’s American Rescue Plan will be passed via budget reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority of senators to pass. Senators, however, then have to vote on each amendment to the bill separately, which will take hours. Sessions tend to last as late as 4 a.m.
The ultimate goal of Republicans is to sway just one Democrat away from supporting the COVID-19 relief package. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said Wednesday, “There is a chance [centrist Democrats] may join us in slimming it down some … Any amount we can reduce the size of this is a good thing for the country. And I think there’s at least a chance that one or two Democrats could join all of us and spend a little bit less.”
No centrist Democrats have indicated they will vote against the bill. Current estimates say the GOP roadblocks will likely delay aid to Americans by five days.