Biden Meets With 10 GOP Senators on COVID Relief - Should They Make a Bipartisan Deal?
Should Congress and the White House make a bipartisan deal on COVID relief?
What’s the story?
- President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday hosted 10 Republican senators for a meeting at the Oval Office about the next steps on coronavirus (COVID-19) relief.
- Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion package, and Democrats in Congress are preparing to use the budget reconciliation process to allow it to pass on party-line votes in both chambers if they’re unable to reach a bipartisan deal capable of getting 60 votes in the evenly-divided Senate.
- Republicans have balked at Biden’s price tag given that Congress enacted a $900 billion bill in December, and proposed a targeted $618 billion counteroffer to Biden’s package. The 10 GOP senators released a statement after the meeting which read in part:
“We presented our proposal to the president and we had a very productive exchange of views. On five previous occasions, Congress has demonstrated that we can come together to deliver COVID-19 relief for the American people. In the coming days, talks among our group, the Biden Administration, and other Senators will continue as we work in good faith on a sixth bipartisan package to help struggling families, get students back to school, assist our small businesses and the their employees, provide relief for healthcare providers, and accelerate testing and vaccine programs.”
- White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki released a statement on Biden and Harris’s meeting with the GOP senators which read in part:
“The President expressed his hope that the group could continue to discuss ways to strengthen the American Rescue Plan as it moves forward, and find areas of common ground ― including work on small business support and nutrition programs. He reiterated, however, that he will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”
What’s in the GOP package?
- Direct Payments: The Republican bill would provide an additional $1,000 payment ($1,600 total when paired with the December package) to Americans, which would be targeted to lower-income Americans and carry a projected price tag of $220 billion. The payments would start to phase out at $40,000 of annual income individuals and would be capped at $50,000 (or $80,000 and $100,000 for joint filers).
- Enhanced Unemployment: The $300 per week federal enhancement of state unemployment benefits would be extended through the end of June. This provision would cost roughly $130 billion.
- Healthcare Response: The GOP package would provide $160 billion in funding for the healthcare response to COVID, including $50 billion for testing and $20 billion for vaccine distribution. It would also include $35 billion in funding for healthcare providers, with a set aside for rural hospitals, and $30 billion for the disaster relief fund.
- Childcare and Schools: Republicans’ proposal would also provide $20 billion for childcare and $20 billion for K-12 schools to reopen.
- Small Businesses: The GOP package would include $50 billion for small business programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Trump White House Archived via Flickr / Public Domain)
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