Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) speaks with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in the Capitol. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Ten GOP senators are planning to float a compromise COVID-19 bill capping stimulus payments at $50,000.
Under the GOP proposal, direct payments would be reduced from $1,400 to $1,000.
The senators want to meet with Biden and are urging Democrats not to push a package through via reconciliation.
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A group of 10 Senate Republicans announced on Sunday they will soon unveil a $600 billion stimulus package in an effort to strike a compromise with the Biden administration.
The Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, also requested a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss their proposal. The plan’s size is less than a third of the $1.9 trillion plan envisioned by Biden and most Democratic leaders in Congress.
“We recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis,” the letter said.
In addition to Collins, it was signed by Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Todd Young of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Jerry Moran of Kansas.
Details about the forthcoming Republican plan trickled out on Sunday. Portman said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” it would aim the new round of direct payments to Americans who earn less than $50,000 a year and married couples making below $100,000.
According to Cassidy in a separate Fox News appearance, the direct payment amount would be cut from the current $1,400 Democratic proposal to $1,000. The Biden proposal has a provision for a fresh wave of $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans.
The Republican letter also sketched out more about the plan’s provisions. It would extend the $300 federal unemployment benefit; provide $160 billion in funds for virus testing and vaccine distribution; and provide extra money for the Paycheck Protection Program as well as schools.
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Portman, who just last week announced that he would retire in 2022 after two terms, implored Democrats not to push a large relief bill through Congress using the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority.
Portman and the other nine GOP senators are calling on Biden to act on his call for “unity” and confer with the GOP group in crafting a smaller compromise package.
“My hope is the president will meet with us,” Portman said.
Since being sworn in, Biden has emphasized he is open to seeking a bipartisan deal with Republicans on an economic relief package. Brian Deese, a top White House economic advisor, said that was still the case.
Biden “is open to ideas wherever they may come,” Deese told NBC News on Sunday. “What he’s uncompromising about is the need to move with speed on a comprehensive plan.”
Democrats, though, are preparing to circumvent Republicans using reconciliation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Democrats would vote on a budget resolution this week, the first step in the process.
It appears unlikely the Biden administration will sign onto or adopt many elements of a GOP plan which curtails some of their top relief priorities like strengthened unemployment insurance.
“We have learned from past crises that the risk is not doing too much,” Biden said at the White House on Friday. “The risk is not doing enough.”
In December 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief package, which included $600 direct payments to individual Americans and $300 federal unemployment benefits until March 14.
Democratic leaders have set mid-March as a deadline for legislative action because millions of Americans stand to lose their jobless aid after that date.
At the time, Biden made it clear that the December package was only “a down payment” on a more comprehensive bill that he would seek to pass once he was in office.
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