It is doubtful that the House and Senate could tackle the next COVID-19 package until the first week of March, Fox News has learned. But, the process to put a COVID relief measure on the floors of both the House and Senate begins next week.
Here’s the problem: How does the Senate move such a measure (still unwritten) and avoid a filibuster? That requires 60 yeas. Moreover, how do Democrats advance a plan in a 50/50 Senate? The answer is "budget reconciliation." It is an arcane, one-year fiscal process that curbs debate in the Senate to only 20 hours. No filibusters allowed. And it only needs 51 votes to pass.
Fox News has learned that the House Budget Committee will prepare a budget "vehicle" on Feb. 1. The measure would likely go to the House floor on Feb. 3. This "vehicle" is the essential first step. You can’t do the substance of the coronavirus bill unless you have the reconciliation vehicle that allows the Senate to consider the actual package under these special rules.
Fox is told the Senate will likely move its budget reconciliation vehicle on Feb. 5.
In other words, this is the "bus" that will hold contents of the next COVID package -- and allow it to bypass filibusters.
Fox News is told it will still take a couple of weeks to get the next coronavirus bill together, and that will likely hit the first week of March. But it could go earlier if the measure is ready.
Democrats used budget reconciliation to pass ObamaCare in 2010 because they couldn’t get 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. Republicans unsuccessfully used reconciliation to try to do undo ObamaCare. And, Republicans also used reconciliation to approve tax reform.
Meanwhile, many Americans have not yet received their $600 stimulus checks that were approved as part of the $900 billion relief package passed in December. Most Americans received $1,200 stimulus checks as part of the first relief bill back in April.
Fox News' Evie Fordham contributed to this report.