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March 4, 2021
This past week, 10 republican senators proposed a $600 billion counteroffer to the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package proposed by Democrats.
A group of 10 Republicans have launched an effort to try to force President Joe Biden to negotiate a bit on his planned $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. In a letter to Biden, the senators, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, say they are putting forward the plan “in the spirit of bipartisanship and unity” that the president has called for. Republicans have said Biden’s bill involves too much money considering Congress has already committed $4 trillion to fight the pandemic, including $900 billion in December.
The move by Republican senators involves an effort to prevent Democrats to pursue what is known as budget reconciliation. The procedural tactic would allow Democrats to pass the bill without negotiating with Republicans because they would only need a simple majority in the Senate. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who is one of the Republicans who signed the letter, said that pursuing that tactic would “set President Biden down a path of partisanship that will poison the well.” Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who also signed the letter, said on Fox News that their proposed package would total some $600 billion [MSN].
President Biden himself seems to be cooperating with these senators on their push to pass a relief bill sooner rather than later. According to CNN, Biden stated in White House preference on Friday: “I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But the COVID relief has to pass”. This has been the sentiment from the president as this week has progressed as well, which signals that he is looking more for relief for the people and less for partisan politics. In the meanwhile, house Democrats are pushing a new “budget reconciliation” bill that would allow them to use their slim majority to push a stimulus package without Republican support.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on Thursday that Democrats’ preference is for the relief efforts to be bipartisan, “But if our Republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation,” Schumer said, “we will have to move forward without them.” With the current signatures on the bill, the senate has the filibuster-proof 60 vote majority to pass the $600 billion bill as it stands. It is unclear whether the bill will be passed as-is or if negotiations will continue to find a middle ground between the two offers [NPR].
ARTICLE: LUKE MOCHERMAN
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: DOUG MILLER/THE NEW YORK TIMES