President Joe Biden speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on January 29, 2021.
Nicholas Comb | AFP | Getty Images
Democratic Congress leaders took the first step to pass sweeping coronavirus support law without GOP support on Monday when President Joe Biden heard a much smaller plan from Republicans.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with ten Republican senators for about two hours Monday when the Democrats decided whether to downsize their aid proposal to win GOP votes or move forward alone. Republican lawmakers on Sunday made a counter offer to Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion bailout. The $ 618 billion plan would:
- Submit a smaller direct payment of $ 1,000 that will expire at a lower income threshold of $ 40,000 for individuals
- Extend federal unemployment benefits by $ 300 per week through June 30th
- Put $ 20 billion into a national vaccination program
- Inject $ 20 billion into K-12 schools
- No state and local government support, a priority for Democrats
After meeting in the Oval Office, Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, called it “productive” and “heartfelt”. She said, “I wouldn’t say we have come together in a package,” but noted that the sides agreed to “follow up and talk” through a relief plan.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer dismissed the GOP plan as inadequate on Sunday as his Democratic Party warned that failure to spend money now will cause more pain in the years to come. While meeting with Republicans, Biden will attempt to reconcile a stated desire to work across the aisle with calls for decisive action to mitigate the health and economic crises.
The Democrats warned of the damage caused by delays and pushed ahead with the delicate process that would allow them to pass a bill without a Republican vote in Congress. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Instituted a budget resolution, the first step in leveraging the reconciliation process that only requires a majority to pass. The House intends to approve the measure this week.
The resolution instructs the committees to develop a number of coronavirus support measures included in Biden’s proposal, such as: B. $ 1,400 in direct payments, a weekly increase in federal unemployment of $ 400 a week, $ 350 billion in state, local and tribal aid, funding for Covid-19 vaccines, and testing and rental and mortgage aid. The instructions don’t include a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour, a Democratic priority that may not fit within the restrictions on reconciliation bills.
“We are confident that Republicans will work bipartisan to support support for their communities, but the American people cannot afford any further delays and Congress must act to prevent more unnecessary suffering,” said Schumer and Pelosi in an explanation.
Biden spoke to Schumer and Pelosi on Sunday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement announcing the president’s public relations work with Republicans. Biden “is grateful that Congress is ready to take action,” she added.
Biden has left the door open to pass Republican-free law when he can’t reach an agreement with GOP lawmakers.
“I support Covid, with Republican support, if we can get it,” he told reporters on Friday. “But the Covid relief has to pass, there are no ifs and buts.”
Democrats would need 10 Republican Senate votes to overcome a filibuster and pass an aid bill. Winning the group that went to the White House on Monday would give Democrats enough support to get the legislation through the Chamber.
However, the sites are faced with the challenge of finding a compromise between $ 1.9 trillion and $ 618 billion. A key democrat immediately rejected the GOP framework.
Incoming Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Said the plan was “far too small to provide the relief the American people need.” Criticizing the decision to extend federal unemployment benefits until June, he said, “We can’t jump from cliff to cliff every few months.”
“Workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own shouldn’t worry about losing their income overnight. Extending benefits for at least six months is essential,” Wyden said in a statement.
Senators who met with Biden include several members of the bipartisan group that worked out the framework for the $ 900 billion relief plan passed in December. The Republicans are:
- Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia
- Bill Cassidy from Louisiana
- Susan Collins from Maine
- Jerry Moran from Kansas
- Lisa Murkowski from Alaska
- Rob Portman from Ohio
- Mitt Romney from Utah
- Mike laps from South Dakota
- Thom Tillis from North Carolina
- Todd Young from Indiana
“We believe that with your support, Congress can once again create a relief package that will provide meaningful and effective relief to the American people and get us on the road to recovery,” they wrote in their letter to Biden. “We recognize your demands for unity and want to work in good faith with your administration to meet the health, economic and social challenges of the COVID crisis.”
Your proposal would reduce Bidens in several ways. First, recipients of direct payments would receive $ 400 less. The plan would also begin by tiering checks earning $ 40,000 a year for individuals, up from $ 75,000 in the president’s proposal. The checks would be limited to an income of $ 50,000 in the GOP proposal.
The offer would maintain $ 300 weekly unemployment benefits through June, while Biden’s would add a $ 400 weekly supplement through September. The GOP plan would not send any new relief to state and local governments either, as a democratic priority would be neglected.
The $ 20 billion set by the Republicans for schools versus $ 170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions in Biden’s plan.
The urge for another aid package comes as the government rushes to vaccinate Americans before more transmissible variants of Covid spread widely. More than 25 million people have now received at least one dose of vaccine, while at least 5.6 million have received both shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While new Covid-19 cases have slowed in the US, the outbreak kills an average of more than 3,000 Americans every day.
U.S. GDP grew 4% in the fourth quarter, but declined 3.5% in 2020 as a whole. More than 18 million people received unemployment benefits last month.
Despite the sluggish recovery, Republicans will struggle to get some colleagues to endorse even a scaled-down plan. Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., On Monday downplayed the need for spending outside of vaccine distribution funds.
“I just don’t think there’s a good reason to repeat this,” he told CNBC.