Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) is following President Joe Biden’s unilateral lead, pushing forward with plans to enact a host of progressive policy goals without GOP votes.
Days after Biden issued a historic 17 executive orders on his first day in office, Schumer urged the president to declare a national climate emergency, saying the move would authorize Biden to do “many, many things under the emergency powers of the president … that he could do without legislation.” Schumer also joined Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to encourage Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt via executive order. In a Tuesday campaign email announcing their partnership on the issue, Warren said Biden could impose the policy “without waiting for Congress.”
Should Biden need to rely on lawmakers to pass his agenda, however, Schumer could still sidestep Republicans through reconciliation, a budget rule that would allow Democrats to pass certain legislation with just 51 votes. Schumer on Monday floated using the rule to take gas-powered cars off the road by 2040. The Democrat is also advancing plans to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill through reconciliation. Biden’s bill includes a provision that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15—a move that could cost anywhere from 1.5 million to 3.7 million jobs, according to a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimate.
If successful, Schumer’s scorched-earth approach would almost certainly face legal challenges. It could also undermine Biden’s repeated calls for unity and bipartisanship. Republicans have already expressed anger with Biden’s opening flurry of executive orders—Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) on Friday accused the president of implementing a “radical leftist agenda” that “will not help unify our country.” Rep. Jason Smith (Mo.), the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon that Biden’s wide use of executive power, and by extension Schumer’s push for reconciliation, would prove divisive. – READ MORE
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