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Little known outside the Capitol, Elizabeth MacDonough could make or break key elements of President Biden’s stimulus plan. Senators are competing to win her over.
WASHINGTON — In the days after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, Elizabeth MacDonough donned a hazmat suit and returned to her ransacked office on the building’s first floor, grabbing what materials she would need to continue working with her staff elsewhere.
Soon after, Ms. MacDonough, the Senate’s procedural referee and rules enforcer, was back in the Capitol, pulling an all-nighter as senators ground through a 15-hour voting session to consider the blueprint for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. Instead of leaving once the measure passed before dawn, Ms. MacDonough and her staff aides stayed up to work, moving back into her office and making the final preparations for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump.
Now, Ms. MacDonough — a figure little known outside the Capitol but crucial to those who work there — has been thrust into the spotlight as a critical player in Democrats’ fight to keep Mr. Biden’s pandemic aid plan on track and intact. As the arbiter of strict Senate rules that limit what can be included in the package, Ms. MacDonough has become the subject of an intensive lobbying campaign by senators in both parties to bless their favored items, or nix those they oppose.
Studies and reports have been obtained, arguments drafted and tea leaves obsessively examined — all in a bid to persuade Ms. MacDonough, who will determine the fate of several key liberal provisions, including a federal minimum wage increase Mr. Biden has championed. The decision on the wage increase could come as early as Wednesday.
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