Amid a new power hold in Washington, D.C., Democrats are mulling how to use it to their advantage, particularly when it comes to badly needed stimulus checks for struggling Americans.

President Biden has sought a $1.9 trillion package, a pill Republicans have found hard to swallow, and congressional Democrats have pushed for $2,000 stimulus checks.

It may come down to a gamble—with stimulus money on the table. Should the party that controls the executive and legislative branches throw caution to the wind or moderate and bank on Republican buy-in? Which hand is the best play in a period of deep political divisions?

The more aggressive option would see Democrats claim a mandate from voters and push their more expensive plan through Congress with little regard for Republican support.

“...There are urgent needs and reforms that shouldn’t wait,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said earlier this month. “[We can] really go on the offensive and really deal with some of the urgent economic needs that face working people.”

But the risk of forceful “reconciliation” might not benefit Biden’s agenda in the long run by risking further bitter partisanship. What’s more, such a bill would need to be narrow in scope and require every Democrat to get on board.

“I feel like that’s got to be the very last resort,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., told Politico. “We’ve got to do everything we can to make this bipartisan.”

A second alternative, more likely to garner Republican backing, would issue checks for only $1,400, but could also fund Biden’s plan for aggressive COVID-19 vaccine distribution. That could mean action in two crucial areas and serve as an early bipartisan political win for Biden.

Any political calculations will include March 14 as an important date on the calendar. That’s when current federal unemployment benefits expire. Democrats say a bipartisan plan could be voted on as early as next week. That easier path, with the more modest stimulus, is potentially doable in the House, according to Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus.

“One of the things I think could really get people together is vaccine distribution … and maybe there's some additional monetary assistance,” he said.

Any House bill, bipartisan or not, would wind up in the Senate next, where the competing interests of the confirmation of Biden’s cabinet and former President Trump’s impeachment trial loom large.

Investors are now waiting to hear what Democrats plan to do with their new control of Congress, with expectations another huge stimulus package is in the works Investors are now waiting to hear what Democrats plan to do with their new control of Congress, with expectations another huge stimulus package is in the works Photo: AFP / Eric BARADAT