Ayyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Joe Biden, Senate Republicans, and the Covid-19 stimulus package.
President Joe Biden intends to meet with 10 GOP senators who are calling on him to make a bipartisan deal instead of forging ahead with a party line vote on his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. The group announced plans to release an approximately $600 billion coronavirus relief package as a counter proposal to Biden’s much larger plan, posing a test for Biden who campaigned on promises to unify Congress and the country. The senators, led by Susan Collins (R.Maine), said they would formally unveil the plan on , and they requested a meeting with Biden. Biden and Collins subsequently spoke, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced late Sunday that the president had invited the 10 Republican lawmakers to the White House “for a full exchange of views.”
The meeting will take place on Monday, according to two people with knowledge of the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement. The planned meeting comes as Democrats prepare to move forward this week to set up a partisan path for Biden’s relief bill, which Republicans have dismissed as overly costly given some $4 trillion Congress has already committed to fighting the pandemic, including $900 billion in December.
The GOP proposal has certain elements that have drawn Republican opposition, such as increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. It would also reduce the size of a new round of checks Biden wants to send to Americans, from $1,400 per individual to $1,000 while significantly reducing the income limits that determine eligibility for the stimulus payments.
A $600 billion plan that is a fraction of the size of Biden’s proposal is unlikely to draw much if any Democratic support. However, the GOP offer presents a challenge for Biden, who campaigned on promises of bipartisanship and must decide whether to rebuff the overture or make a genuine effort to find common ground across the aisle.
“We want to work in good faith with you and your administration to meet the health, economic and societal challenges of the covid crisis,” the Republican lawmakers wrote, adding they were responding to his “calls for unity.”
Top Biden economic adviser Brian Deese said on CNN’s “State of the Union” before the meeting was announced that Biden was open to an exchange of views on his plan. But Deese emphasized that speed was of the essence and refused to say whether Biden was willing to entertain a smaller overall price tag. “The president is uncompromising when it comes to the speed that we need to act at to address this crisis,” Deese said.
“The provisions of the president’s plan, the American Rescue Plan, are calibrated to the economic crisis that we face,” Deese said.
The White House is pushing its plan amid signs of a broader economic slowdown and a continued wave of enormously high unemployment claims of close to 1 million a week. The emergence in the United States of highly transmissible coronavirus variants has also intensified fears that another wave of shutdowns will be necessary.