Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerLawmakers propose draft bill to create Capitol riot commission The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The AIDS Institute – COVID-19 rescue bill a unity test for Dems OVERNIGHT ENERGY: US officially rejoins Paris climate agreement | Biden Energy Dept orders sweeping review of Trump energy rules | Texas power grid was ‘seconds and minutes’ from total failure, officials say MORE (D-N.Y.) warned Senate Democrats, including centrists who are balking at certain elements of President BidenJoe BidenTikTok users spread conspiracy that Texas snow was manufactured by the government The problem with a one-size-fits-all federal minimum wage hike Throwing money at Central America will not curb illegal migration MORE’s proposal, that failure to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill would be a political disaster.
Schumer, who scored a win earlier this month when all 50 Democrats voted to pass a budget resolution laying the groundwork for the bill, told colleagues on a conference call they need to stay completely unified in the weeks ahead.
“I made a pitch today to our entire caucus and I said that we need to pass this bill. The American people, the American public demands it and everyone is going to have things that they want to see in the bill and we’ll work hard to see if we can get those things in the bill,” he told reporters after holding a call with the Senate Democratic caucus Tuesday.
“Job No. 1 is to pass the bill. Pass the bill we must. And I have confidence we will do it,” Schumer said after he was asked about the power of centrist Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden’s .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March On The Money: Neera Tanden’s nomination in peril after three GOP noes | Trump rages after SCOTUS rules on financial records Tanden’s path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable MORE (D-W.Va.), who says he opposes including a provision to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Schumer also has to worry about centrist Sens. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocratic Senate campaign arm taps new staff leaders Tester to chair defense appropriations panel Trump lawyer accuses Democrats of violent rhetoric MORE (D-Mont.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who have flashed independent streaks.
Tester declined to say Tuesday whether he would support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, explaining he wanted to see if the Senate parliamentarian would approve allowing the provision in a package Democrats plan to pass with a simple majority vote under special budgetary rules.
Earlier on Tuesday, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden’s .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March On The Money: Neera Tanden’s nomination in peril after three GOP noes | Trump rages after SCOTUS rules on financial records Tanden’s path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable MORE (Maine), a key Republican centrist, said she would be surprised if any Republican colleagues vote for Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue plan.
That means Schumer can’t afford any defections from his caucus.
Asked what he would do to avoid defections from Manchin and other centrists from the COVID-19 relief bill or some of Biden’s more controversial nominees, such as Rep. Deb HaalandDeb HaalandImage of Deb Haaland projected onto Interior Dept building calling for her confirmation OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland to say fossil fuels will ‘play a major role,’ but climate must be addressed | Biden administration supports court’s restrictions for biofuel exemptions | Republican senators take aim at Paris agreement with new legislation Haaland: Fossil fuels will ‘play a major role,’ but climate must be addressed MORE (D-N.M.), who has been nominated to head the Interior Department, Schumer simply held up his flip phone.
“This is my answer,” he said, holding aloft his old-fashioned cellphone. “I speak to my members all the time and I have a leadership that meets Monday night.”
Asked how he’s keeping the Democratic caucus united with such a slim 50-50 majority, Leader Schumer confidently held up his flip phone and said: “This is my answer.” pic.twitter.com/x7rHXOCsyR
— Ali Zaslav (@alizaslav) February 23, 2021
“We discuss it out and so far, so far, we’ve had great unity,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of unity and we need to keep it.”
“With 50 votes we need our unity and we’re fighting to get it and so far, so good,” he added.
The Senate is evenly split, with each party controlling 50 seats, but Democrats are in the majority because Vice President Harris can cast tie-breaking votes in their favor.
The Biden administration suffered a setback last week when Manchin announced he would oppose Neera TandenNeera TandenOn The Money: Neera Tanden’s nomination in peril after three GOP noes | Trump rages after SCOTUS rules on financial records Tanden’s path to confirmation looks increasingly untenable Asian Pacific American Caucus urges senators to confirm Tanden MORE, the president’s choice to head the White House budget office, because of criticisms of Senate colleagues she has made on Twitter.