GOP senators unveil details of $618B coronavirus relief proposal ahead of meeting with Biden

Stimulus spending should focus on getting Americans vaccinated: Steve Moore

FreedomWorks economist Steve Moore weighs in on the Democrats’ coronavirus relief plan.

A group of 10 Senate Republicans unveiled new details of their roughly $618 billion coronavirus relief proposal on Monday morning, hours before a meeting with President Biden where they will make a last-minute push for bipartisanship on the next round of emergency fiscal aid.

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The measure, roughly one-third of the $1.9 trillion proposal outlined by Biden at the beginning of January, includes $300 a week in supplemental unemployment benefits through June, $50 billion for small businesses including an additional $40 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program and a third round of stimulus checks worth up to $1,000 for Americans earning less than $50,000 (individuals earning less than $40,000 would receive the full payment).

It would also allocate $160 billion for vaccine distribution efforts, including $50 billion to expand COVID-19 testing, and $20 billion for K-12 schools. The proposal noticeably excludes new funding for state and local governments, one of the most contentious points in relief negotiations, and omits the federal minimum wage increase that Biden included in his plan.

The coalition of more moderate GOP senators, led by Sen. Susan Collins, sent a letter to Biden on Sunday, seeking a meeting to begin bipartisan negotiations on the next relief bill. The outreach came as their Democratic colleagues were preparing to move forward on passing another massive stimulus bill using their simple majority.

Biden invited the senators to the White House for a meeting that is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. ET on Monday.


“Mr. President, 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 group of senators said Monday.

Though many concede that another round of emergency aid is needed, the majority of Republican lawmakers have criticized the size and scope of Biden's $1.9 trillion measure, arguing that it's too expensive and comes too soon on the heels of the $900 billion aid package that Congress passed in December.

The Democrats' bill is expected to include a third $1,400 stimulus check, an extension of supplemental unemployment benefits at $400 a week through September, $350 billion in funding for state and local governments and $20 billion for vaccine distribution. It would also raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, in addition to a number of other provisions. The Biden proposal did not specify the eligibility requirements for the stimulus money, but indicated they were open to discussing it.

Unless the Biden administration makes significant changes to the measure, it will almost certainly fail to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to pass the Senate without Democrats relying on budget reconciliation.


The Biden administration has not ruled out the possibility of using a process known as budget reconciliation to pass the measure, which would allow Democrats to bypass a filibuster and approve the legislation using their razor-thin majorities. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week that "we are not going to take any tools off the table." Still, there are limits on what legislation qualifies for reconciliation and how frequently the process can be used — and Biden campaigned on uniting the country and ending partisan bickering.

“That would be a big mistake this early on. And I think they ought to attempt to try to do it the other way,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., told Politico about the possibility that Democrats would use reconciliation to pass the relief bill.

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