Update From Washington, D.C.
House Votes to Impeach President Trump; Biden Set to Release Details of Economic Stimulus Plan
January 14, 2021
On January 13, the House voted 232 to 197 to impeach President Trump for a second time. The impeachment resolution (H Res 24), which was backed by 10 Republican lawmakers, includes a single article accusing Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors for his role in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Pursuant to H Res 24, Trump “willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged – and foreseeably resulted in – lawless action at the Capitol.” The resolution also cites Trump’s telephone call to Georgia’s secretary of state during which the president requested that the state’s presidential election results be overturned.
The resolution now heads to the Senate, where GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that he would block efforts to begin impeachment proceedings before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20. The move would allow Trump to finish his term without being removed from office, though it’s possible that the chamber could find him guilty in the coming weeks. Despite regaining the majority, Democrats would still need the support of at least 17 Republican senators to reach the two-thirds threshold required to convict.
Biden Set to Unveil COVID-19 Relief Package
Later today, President-elect Biden is expected to outline a COVID-19 relief package designed to help combat the economic damage caused by the pandemic. While the details of his proposal have not yet been released, the plan is expected to be closely modeled after legislation – the HEROES Act – that the House approved in May 2020.
Of particular importance to California’s counties, the plan will include additional fiscal aid to states and local governments. The proposal also is expected to include funding for small businesses and schools, rental assistance programs, and various public health initiatives, including vaccine distribution. Additionally, the forthcoming proposal will likely recommend boosting direct fiscal relief payments to taxpayers. Finally, Biden is expected to make unemployment support a key component of his plan, particularly with extended and supplemental jobless benefits set to expire in mid-March.
While many of the individual elements of the economic stimulus package have been previewed in recent days, the overall price tag of the bill is still unclear. For his part, incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has urged Biden to propose at least $1.3 trillion in spending. There are also recent reports that the president-elect could seek as much as $2 trillion in coronavirus-related assistance.
Looking ahead, the Biden administration has indicated that it would prefer to work in a bipartisan manner, though House and Senate Democrats could use the budget reconciliation process if negotiations breakdown. Budget reconciliation would allow Democrats to fast-track a COVID-19 relief bill while insulating the legislation from the threat of filibuster in the Senate. With regard to timing, the House could move swiftly, but Trump’s forthcoming impeachment trial may consume valuable floor time in the Senate during the early days of Biden’s presidency.