Tammy Duckworth Endorses Budget Reconciliation As Mitch McConnell Slams 'Partisan Path'

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) has backed using the budget reconciliation process to pass President Joe Biden's COVID-19 stimulus package without Republican support.

Duckworth issued a statement on Twitter on Tuesday supporting a reconciliation bill as Republicans criticize Democrats for not taking a more bipartisan approach.

"Inaction on COVID is clearly costing lives—we have to act now," Duckworth said, pointing to the death toll of almost 450,000 people and the economic impact.

"The reconciliation bill will provide Congress with another tool to help the country recover with additional and substantial stimulus checks for working families, extended and enhanced unemployment benefits, more funding for state and local governments, more resources for struggling small businesses and additional support for widespread testing and vaccine distribution programs," Duckworth's statement said.

"We need all of this if we're going to crush this virus and deliver real support for families and communities in need. I hope my Republican colleagues will join Democrats to act immediately in a meaningful and comprehensive way to help Americans."

The budget reconciliation process would allow Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to pass without relying on Republican support and a number of Democratic lawmakers have signaled their openness to it.

However, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) criticized Democrats for going ahead with the stimulus package without GOP backing.

"They've chosen a totally partisan path," McConnell said. "That's unfortunate."

When he was majority leader, McConnell used budget reconciliation to pass tax cuts in 2017 and deployed the procedure as part of a failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"By the end of the week, we will be finished with the budget resolution, which will be about reconciliation, if needed," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week.

"I hope we don't need it. But if we need it, we will have it," she added.

The House will have to vote on a budget resolution that will trigger the reconciliation process—allowing a budget to be passed with a simple majority of 51 in the Senate. Congress did not pass a budget in 2020, which could allow Democrats to use reconciliation to pass budgets for 2020 and 2021.

Democrats have the numbers in the evenly divided Senate as Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote in any deadlock. However, there are limits to the measures that can be approved through reconciliation.

Many Democrats are arguing that the stimulus package is urgently needed.

"We can't wait. We have to go big," said California Rep. Barbara Lee. "I hope we can do this in a bipartisan way, but we cannot let down the American people and say, 'Well we couldn't get the Republicans to vote for what you need to save your life.'"

Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) talks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on November 17, 2020. Duckworth is backing the use of budget reconciliation to pass the president's COVID-19 stimulus plan. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images