In a “substantive and productive” meeting with Joe Biden on Monday, a group of GOP Senators outlined a $618 billion coronavirus relief counter-offer, which includes a round of $1,000 direct checks for many adults.
Republican lawmakers reported an “excellent” discussion, though no agreement was reached.
At the same time, democrats began a process that would allow them to move forward with Biden’s whopping $1.9 trillion proposal without bipartisan support, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The 10 team right Senators discussed their proposal, which includes some elements similar to those in Biden’s plan.
For example, the proposal outlines $300 a week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits through June, which is not far off from the $400 a week through September in Biden’s proposal.
Additionally, the plan calls for $220 billion for a new round of direct payments, with $1000 sent to individuals making under $40,000 a year and $500 for dependent adults and children. Individuals making over $50,000 a year would be ineligible for direct payments.
The GOP proposal also outlines $20 billion for child care and $20 billion for schools – both of which are lower than Biden’s – as well as $50 billion for small business relief, and $160 billion for vaccines, testing and protective equipment.
So what is the main difference between the two?
The team right proposal does not include raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, nor does it include aid for state and local governments.
The GOP senators at the meeting included Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mitt Romney of Utah, Todd Young of Indiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
An aside: Of these 10 GOP lawmakers, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski all have a history of significant clashes with President Trump.
Following the meeting, Sen. Susan Collins said she is hopeful Congress can pass another relief package.
“What we did agree to do is follow up and talk further at the staff level and amongst ourselves and with the president and vice president on how we can continue to work together on this very important issue,” she said. “All of us are concerned about struggling families, teetering small businesses and overwhelmed health care systems, getting vaccines out and into people’s arms and strengthening our economy and addressing the public health crisis that we face.”
Also after the meeting, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the discussion was productive, but emphasized that Biden wants to move forward quickly with a large aid plan.
“While there were areas of agreement, the president also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently and noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address,” Psaki said.