Democrats may try to pass Biden's COVID bill with majority vote: Schumer

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FILE PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Schumer meets virtually with retired U.S. General Austin, nominated by Biden to be his Secretary of Defense, in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday that Democrats may try to pass much of President Joe Biden's coronavirus relief bill using a process that would bypass a Republican filibuster and could pass with a majority vote.

Biden wants Congress to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal, but many Republicans have balked at the price tag. The Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.

Sixty votes are needed to overcome a procedural hurdle known as a filibuster to pass legislation.

Reconciliation allows major legislation to pass the Senate on a simple majority.

"We can get a lot of the COVID bill done with reconciliation, and that's something we certainly will use if they try to block this immediate COVID bill," Schumer told MSNBC.

Biden, who took office last Wednesday, campaigned on a promise to take aggressive action on the pandemic, which his Republican predecessor, President Donald Trump, often downplayed.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Peter Cooney)