Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
February 5, 2021

The Senate early this morning adopted a budget blueprint that would grease the wheels for a partisan coronavirus relief package that Democratic leaders are getting ready to draft next week.  The budget resolution was adopted by a vote of 51-50. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the decisive vote after senators predictably deadlocked along party lines.  The measure, which the House is expected to adopt later Friday, would set aside room for up to $1.89 trillion in deficit spending to combat the pandemic and provide financial aid to millions of Americans while the economy recovers.  The implementing legislation for the budget reconciliation package, which can bypass the Senate’s usual 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with a simple majority, would start to take shape in a dozen House committees next week.  Senate adoption came in the wee hours of Friday morning after a “vote-a-rama” session that began at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Nearly 900 amendments were filed, featuring numerous ridiculous GOP messaging ploys on a range of hot-button topics such as illegal immigration, reopening public schools and nursing home deaths during the pandemic.  The House adopted a very similar fiscal 2021 blueprint on Wednesday, but the version the Senate wrapped up early Friday will need to go back to the House for final adoption in that chamber because of some technical differences as well as amendments the Senate added.  The House is expected to take it up later today.

First though, the House will take up H.R. 447 – National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 including 26 amendments to be offered enbloc.  A full list of amendments can be found here.  The bipartisan National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, invests more than

$3.5 billion over 5 years in expanding opportunities and access to Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships. The proposal would create nearly 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities on top of the current expected growth of the apprenticeship system. It would also yield $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased workers productivity and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance.  Fact sheet.

The push for stimulus comes amid new signs of a weakening U.S. economy today. Employers added just 49,000 jobs in January, after cutting 227,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department said Friday. Restaurants, retailers, manufacturers and even the health care sector shed workers last month, meaning that private employers accounted for a meager gain of 6,000 jobs last month.  “At that rate, it’s going to take 10 years until we hit full employment,” Biden said at the meeting with House Democrats Friday morning. “That’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact.”

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.