President Joe Biden is already facing a challenge in his push for another stimulus check bill: Republican backlash. According to a report by The Hill, Republicans in the U.S. Congress are unenthusiastic about Biden's $1.9 trillion proposal. While he could still pass the bill without their support, it would tarnish his reputation for bipartisan compromise.
Biden unveiled his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan before he even took office, and Republicans have condemned it from the start. Experts say that Biden could likely pass the bill without their approval through the budget reconciliation process, knowing that most Democrats would support him. However, doing so would provide ammunition to critics, who will say that Biden's calls for "unity" and his professed ability to reach across the aisle were just talk.
"The decision to use reconciliation will depend on how these negotiations go... This is just the process beginning," Biden told reporters on Monday. His administration hinted that it was open to using budget reconciliation to pass the stimulus check as-is, in spite of the apparent political backlash. However, Biden indicated that he might let Democratic leaders in Congress decide.
"Reconciliation is a means of getting a bill passed. There are a number of means of getting bills passed. That does not mean, regardless of how the bill is passed, that Democrats and Republicans cannot both vote for it," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday.
Reconciliation is often used to pass bills that would otherwise be threatened by a 60-vote legislative filibuster, though it is not clear if the stimulus bill is in the position. At least one Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, has said that he is against the stimulus package.
Some Republicans are in favor of another stimulus package, but not one as big as Biden's proposal. They are leaning heavily on the term "targeted" stimulus, arguing that a direct payment to American taxpayers is not needed, but some programs and enhancements are. These critics also complain that Biden is not waiting to see how the $900 billion stimulus package passed in December will impact the economy over the next few weeks.
At the same time, Biden faces pressure from the other side of this debate as well. If he takes his time and declines to use the full brunt of his executive power, many struggling voters will feel cheated by the president who campaigned on promises to tackle the coronavirus pandemic on every level. A bipartisan group is expected to meet this week to discuss the matter further, but there is no deadline to hint when a decision might be reached.