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Republicans Break Ranks on Impeachment

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Plans for impeachment get an unexpected nudge — from Republicans — but for now, Pence stands with Trump. It’s Wednesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

Trump toured areas where a border wall is being built near Alamo, Texas, yesterday.

A below-the-radar story in Washington is that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has just become the most powerful guy in town. With the Senate split 50-50 and Democrats in control, their most conservative member may find himself in the position of playing Solomon on major legislative items.

But a closely divided Senate also raises the importance of another figure: Senator Bernie Sanders. That’s because, as the chamber’s budget committee chairman, he controls the process of “reconciliation,” whereby certain kinds of laws can be passed by a simple majority and cannot be filibustered.

As the incoming head of the budget committee, Sanders will be in a position to exert major influence over a range of domestic policy measures. High on that list will be passing another economic recovery package, and Sanders has expressed his intention to seek an additional $1,400 in stimulus payments for Americans who recently received $600 federal checks.

“I believe that the crisis is of enormous severity and we’ve got to move as rapidly as we can,” Sanders told Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley for a new article.

“Underline the word aggressive,” he said. “Start out there.”

In a polarized political era, the reconciliation process has become increasingly popular when trying to pass major legislation. Congress used it to pass tax cuts under Trump and President George W. Bush, and to pass the final version of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Joe Biden welcomed Sanders’s input as he crafted his platform ahead of the general election, but he ultimately did not offer the senator a spot in his cabinet, as many on the left had urged him to do.

Biden said last week that he had considered Sanders for labor secretary but had decided to keep him in the Senate so that Democrats could be assured they would retain their majority.

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