Rep. Ro Khanna (D., Calif.) says if Republicans don’t get on board with President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, the Senate should use reconciliation— a process that would allow the legislation to pass through Congress without any Republican support.
“This plan is very reasonable. This is not a far-left plan,” said Khanna in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live. “Joe Biden won the election. He campaigned on this kind of plan and we should pass it.”
Republicans have already pushed back on Biden’s proposal, which calls for $1,400 stimulus checks and an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. Even some moderate Democratic lawmakers, like Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.), have raised concerns about stimulus checks going to people who don’t need them.
If every Democrat gets on board, 10 Republicans would need to support the bill for it to overcome a filibuster — unless Democrats use reconciliation to push the bill through. The process allows the Senate to pass certain legislation with only a simple majority. In 2017, Republicans used the process to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Khanna told Yahoo Finance he also wants to amend the “absurd” Byrd rule, which restricts what legislation can be passed through reconciliation.
“Why should we be bothered or governed by what Robert Byrd thought in 1985 for this country,” said Khanna.
Leaning toward reconciliation
While Biden has said he wants the relief package to be bipartisan, the White House hasn’t ruled out using reconciliation to get the bill through Congress without Republicans.
“The decision to use reconciliation will depend upon how these negotiations go,” said Biden on Monday. “I don’t expect we’ll know whether we have an agreement on to what extent the entire package will be able to pass or not pass until we get right down to the very end of this process, which will be probably in a couple weeks.”
“I don't think a number of the people in the Senate are representative of the actual interests of the American people. There is bipartisan consensus for a $15 minimum wage. There is bipartisan consensus for expanding the earned income tax credit. There is bipartisan consensus for $2,000 checks,” said Khanna. “I understand that you have to compromise if there are issues that don't have 60%, 70% of the public support. These issues are supported by Democrats and Republicans. They're not supported by big business. They're not supported by the special interests, but the Senate in current form is not a true representative body of the American people.”
Khanna says the Biden stimulus proposal is a start, but he thinks Congress should do more. Khanna and Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) have been calling for monthly $2,000 stimulus checks since the spring.
“We're going to need more than just progressives pushing for it though. We're going to need ultimately the administration to champion it,” said Khanna.
Jessica Smith is chief political correspondent for Yahoo Finance, based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.