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Road ahead: Budget resolutions take center stage, along with Cabinet nominations

Republican senators to meet with Biden, Harris

The East Front of the Capitol is plowed as snow continues to fall. Weather delayed some Senate business on Monday.
The East Front of the Capitol is plowed as snow continues to fall. Weather delayed some Senate business on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The House plans to take up a budget resolution this week for a coronavirus relief package, and the Senate may be close behind.

House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., plans to release a fiscal 2021 budget resolution Monday. It’s expected to go to the Rules Committee on Tuesday and to the floor Wednesday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is expected to introduce an identical budget resolution early in the week in the Senate, with a goal of adopting the budget by Friday morning.

Sweeping budget blueprint for pandemic aid readied for floor action

The current plan would send 11 Senate committees and 13 House panels instructions to develop parts of the aid package. Democratic leaders want to adopt the budget resolution in time for committees to write and report their portions during the weeks of Feb. 8 and Feb. 15.

Notably missing from the list of panels is the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., is the incoming chairman, and sending his committee instructions could put him at risk politically, aside from other procedural considerations. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is on the list, according to sources briefed on the proposal.

Meanwhile, 10 Republican senators released a $618 billion coronavirus aid proposal Monday morning — less than one-third of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal.

Senate GOP group floats $618B pandemic relief plan ahead of Biden meeting

The group will meet with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House at 5 p.m. on Monday to discuss the legislation.

Separately, the Senate is moving Biden’s nominees through the system before the impeachment trial next week slows down other business.

The chamber will vote Tuesday on Alejandro Mayorkas’ nomination to lead the Department of Homeland Security, after snow in D.C. forced a one-day delay. The chamber is still scheduled to vote on nomination of Pete Buttigieg to be Transportation secretary at noon Tuesday.

Mayorkas’ nomination advanced by a 7-4 vote in the Homeland Security panel, with support from two Republicans. A group of GOP senators pushed for him to receive a second confirmation hearing with the Judiciary Committee, but the incoming panel chairman, Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., called that “unnecessary.”

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will vote on Denis McDonough’s nomination for VA secretary on Tuesday. McDonough touted his government experience in his confirmation hearing, saying it would overcome his lack of military experience.

Then on Wednesday the Senate Commerce Committee is holding a vote on Gina Raimondo’s Commerce secretary nomination.

On the confirmation hearing front, Tom Vilsack testifies before the Senate Agriculture Committee Tuesday for the top USDA job. Biden has faced criticism for his pick of Vilsack, who was also Agriculture secretary during the Obama administration, from several Black farm groups and advocates for small farmers who see him as a supporter of the status quo.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will question Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona on Wednesday and Labor secretary nominee Martin Walsh on Thursday. Cardona is a relative newcomer to Washington as Connecticut education commissioner and a former teacher and principal. Walsh was a lifelong union member before his election as mayor of Boston.

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