Biden Meets With 10 GOP Senators About Their COVID-19 Relief Proposal
A group of 10 GOP senators led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) met with President Joe Biden to discuss COVID-19 relief plans on Monday evening.
Collins and the senators wrote a letter to Biden requesting a meeting. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is “happy to have a conversation with them.”
Republican senators have offered a COVID-19 relief plan totaling in $618 billion. This is less than one-third of the plan proposed by the Biden administration. The GOP plan calls for $160 billion for vaccine development, distribution, testing and tracing. An additional $132 billion is for expanded unemployment benefits and $220 billion is for a new round of direct payments of $1,000 for people making less than $40,000 a year or couples making under $100,000.
Collins and the group’s letter to Biden said, “In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support. Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support. We request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our proposal in greater detail and how we can work together to meet the needs of the American people during this persistent pandemic.”
Since its announcement, Republican senators have criticized the $1.9 trillion Biden plan as well as Democrats efforts to push the relief bill as budget reconciliation, which would only require a simple majority vote rather than the usual 60 votes required in the Senate.
Biden economic advisor Brian Deese told Meet The Press, “The president has said repeatedly he is open to ideas wherever they may come, that we could improve upon the approach to actually tackling this crisis. What he’s uncompromising about is the need to move with speed on a comprehensive approach here … So we need to act comprehensively, and we need to act with speed, but we’re going to continue to have conversations as we go forward.”