Biden Courts Stimulus Plan With Walmart, Gap Inc. and Others

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said on Tuesday that he was fighting to include the plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 in the Senate’s version of the sweeping bill that Democrats are drafting to carry Mr. Biden’s plans. Mr. Schumer said he was working with the Senate official charged with interpreting the chamber’s rules to make sure the plan could pass muster according to strict standards for what can be included in a budget-reconciliation measure. Democrats are determined to advance the stimulus package as part of a reconciliation bill, which requires only a simple majority to pass and thus could be enacted, if necessary, without Republican support.

But it is unclear whether the wage increase qualifies under the restrictive rules, and Mr. Biden has said he does not expect it to survive. Mr. Schumer would not say whether Democrats would take the extraordinary step of trying to overrule the Senate’s parliamentarian, if necessary, to insist on its inclusion.

His remarks came as he appeared with the newly installed Democratic chairmen of the committees charged with considering the stimulus package, and just as the Senate was to begin the second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump.

“To the pundits who said we can’t do both at once, we say you are wrong,” Mr. Schumer said. “We can and we are.” Asked by reporters on Tuesday afternoon if he was watching the trial, Mr. Biden said he was not.

Before the trial began, Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security Committee questioned Mr. Biden’s nominee to head the White House Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, about past Twitter posts critical of Republicans.

The committee’s top-ranking Republican, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, read several of those posts in his opening round of questions, including one in which Ms. Tanden referred to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, as “Moscow Mitch,” and another that said that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” the Republican senator from Texas.

Ms. Tanden apologized for those and other posts. “I deeply regret and apologize for my language, some of my past language,” Ms. Tanden said. “I recognize that this role is a bipartisan role, and I recognize I have to earn the trust of senators across the board.”

Kate Kelly contributed reporting.

Source: NYT > U.S. > Politics

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