A group of 10 GOP Senators outlined a $618 billion COVID-19 relief plan Monday to President Joe Biden. This includes a round of $1,000 stimulus checks for adults as direct stimulus relief. In addition, the proposal provides $300 a week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits through June. Previously, Democrats proposed unemployment benefits of $400 a week until September.
Meanwhile, Democrats filed a joint budget resolution Monday aimed at passing Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief program. This budget resolution allows the Democrats to pass Biden’s massive coronavirus relief plan without the need for Republican support.
Meeting with Biden
Ten Republican senators met with Mr. Biden Monday evening to discuss their proposal, which offered a lower budget compared to Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan. The GOP offer also earmarked $20 billion each for child care and schools, $50 billion for small business relief, and $160 for the vaccine rollout plan. All these are much lower than what the Democrats want to pass. It also leaves out measures the GOP finds unacceptable, such as state and local government aid and raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Republican Senator Susan Collins (ME) led the group of GOP senators, while Senator Mike Rounds (SD) joined by remote. While the discussion lasted two hours, they did end with both sides agreeing to talk further. “It was a very good exchange of views. I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight. No one expected that in a two-hour meeting,” Collins said after. Senator Rob Portman (OH) called the meeting productive and hoped for a bipartisan aid deal. “No reason we can’t do it again,” he later tweeted.
Not the Forum
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that President Biden found it important to hear out the GOP proposal. However, the meeting was not “the forum for the president to make or accept an offer,” she added. Also, Psaki said the need for state and local government aid at this time. She cited the importance of pushing through with helping states and cities, hence that’s why they were part of the original budget.
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Had the GOP remained in control of the Senate, the $618 billion programs would have stood as a counteroffer for approval. Unfortunately, Democrats now control the Senate, and they are insistent on pushing through without needing to trim the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan.
Democrat Program Too Large
Republicans earlier said that the proposed COVID-19 relief plan’s budget from the Democrats remains too large. Republican Senator Pat Toomey (PA) warned that additional spending on top of the $4 trillion relief programs last year is a bad idea. Toomey did not join the group of GOP Senators who met with Biden.
“It looks to me like a whole lot more of what we just did,” Toomey said on CNBC Monday. He noted that Congress passed in December a roughly $900 billion measure that included stimulus checks and aid for small businesses and unemployment. “Most of this money by the way hasn’t even really been spent yet. I just don’t think there’s a good case for redoing this,” he said. Meanwhile, Democrat Senator Ron Wyden (OR), the incoming Finance Committee chairman, said the Republican proposal is too small. Also, it didn’t offer a long enough extension to unemployment benefits.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), introduced last Monday a budget resolution measure. It aims to get bills passed through a simple majority, instead of the usual 60 votes. “Congress must pursue a bold and robust course of action. It makes no sense to pinch pennies when so many Americans are struggling,” Schumer said Monday.
Democrats will use a procedure called reconciliation to get a bill passed in Congress without requiring Republican votes. This loophole only works when dealing with measures with budget impacts. A bill with 10 Republican votes in the Senate could move faster and avoid some of the quirky constraints inherent in the reconciliation process.
$618 Billion Plan
The Republican proposal also wants to scale back the stimulus check given to American households of $1400 per person. Instead, the relief checks would amount to $1,000 per adult and $500 per dependent adult and child. In addition, the stimulus amount would shrink once income levels reach $40,000 per year. No checks will be given to those earning $50,000 and above. For married couples, relief is suspended when joint income reaches $100,000. For comparison, a married couple with two children would receive up to $5,600 from the Democratic plan and $3,000 from the GOP plan. With the lower handouts, the GOP plan will cost $220 billion, less than half of its Democratic counterpart.
Watch the Bloomberg Politics new video where GOP Senators offer a $600 Billion stimulus compromise:
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Do you agree with the Republican offer of lower stimulus checks for each family? Or, do you prefer to stick with the original plan of $1,400 per person based on the Democratic proposal? Let us know what you think about the ongoing stimulus negotiations in Congress. Share your thoughts below.