Biden and Congress are attempting to succeed in an support settlement
United States President Joe Biden speaks about his administration’s plans to respond to the economic crisis during a Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Response in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on January 22, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion relief plan for coronavirus faces a daunting path to 60 Senate votes as centrist lawmakers signal support for a smaller package based on vaccine distribution.
White House officials called 16 Democratic and Republican senators on Sunday to discuss the plan. These include calls for vaccination funding, $ 1,400 direct payments, a weekly unemployment allowance of $ 400, and state and local government assistance.
Post-meeting comments suggest that Biden could win bipartisan support for Covid-19 vaccine funds – but may not win Republican votes for many of his other proposals.
The call senators agreed that producing and distributing recordings was a top priority, said a person familiar with the discussions. However, a handful of Republican and Democratic senators left the meeting to question the price proposed by the Biden team, suggesting that the White House may need to scale back its ambitions to gain support from both parties.
The administration faces a dilemma. With the Senate group committing to continuing their talks, the White House could opt to stand behind a smaller bipartisan bill if one develops. Otherwise, Democrats can translate at least some of their aid priorities into laws that could be passed by majority budget vote, which would only require democratic support in a 50:50 Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has not ruled out the pandemic aid approval process being used.
“We hope our Republican friends see the need and work with us, but if not we will. There are other means we can use, including reconciliation, that will enable us to do this,” he said Reporters in New York on Sunday.
A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request to comment on whether GOP skepticism is more likely to lead Biden to demand the use of a budget vote
The urge for new relief comes as an average of more than 3,000 Americans lose their lives to the virus every day, and the Biden administration tries to push a sluggish vaccine rollout. Biden signed several executive orders in his first days in office to contain the outbreak and mitigate an economic crisis that saw around 16 million people receive unemployment benefits earlier this month.
The US has given nearly 22 million doses to date, and more than 3 million people have received both required shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biden wants the US to fire 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office as the country seeks a level of immunity that allows governments to lift public health restrictions.
As the Senate seeks to confirm Biden’s cabinet candidates and prepares to begin impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump in two weeks, the Democratic-run house stands ready to take the lead on yet another auxiliary bill. House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Said Thursday that while the chamber is vacant this week, the committees will be working on a coronavirus relief bill “so we are ready to commit next month Floor to go “.
It is now unclear how much House Legislation will resemble Biden’s plan. Democratic leaders have also made vaccine distribution a priority.
Democrats can get a bill through the house without a Republican vote. However, the party cannot afford to have many failures from its ranks, as it has a slim majority of 221-211.
Many Democrats in Congress have been pushing for another major bailout bill to be passed as soon as possible. In a statement Monday, House Budget Committee chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky. Said his party could use reconciliation if Republicans don’t send more aid soon.
“The Biden administration has worked hard to get non-partisan support for this much-needed COVID bailout,” he said. “We welcome this support, but we are fully prepared to drive reconciliation to give families and communities the relief they need now.”
Senate Budgets Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Has also urged Democrats to use the process to approve parts of Biden’s plan, including a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.
The Senate poses a greater challenge to the Democrats than the House. Republicans have shown little interest in another major spending package after lawmakers passed a $ 900 billion relief plan last month.
Senator Angus King, a Maine independent negotiator who is negotiating with Democrats, told CNN on Sunday that the Senators had asked Biden officials for further explanations about how they chose to spend, including a total of $ 130 billion to help reopen schools safely.
“We also planned to meet probably no later than Tuesday to see if a non-partisan package can be put together. It won’t be easy,” said King. “And remember, we just passed a package … about three weeks ago, so there’s a lot to do.”
The other Senator from Maine, Republican Susan Collins, also joined the call. Following the meeting, she told NBC News through a spokesman that it was “premature to consider a package this size and scope.”
She said she was backing more money for vaccine distribution, but argued that a bill should put more restrictions on those receiving the $ 1,400 direct payments. West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has also argued that lawmakers should better target another round of stimulus checks.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a Republican who announced Monday that he will not run for re-election, also called on Biden to scale back the plan.
“I hope the administration will work with us on a more focused approach focusing on things like vaccine distribution, testing and getting children back to school,” he said in a statement.
The Biden government has argued that the federal government is taking the risk of doing too little to stimulate the health system and economy. National Economic Council director Brian Deese, who chaired the meeting with the Senators, told reporters on Friday that “we are at a precarious moment” to respond to the pandemic.
“What I can tell you is if we don’t act now we will be in a much worse place and we will have to do a lot more to dig out a much deeper hole,” he said.
After calling the senators, senior administrators told reporters that the meeting was “consistently constructive,” according to NBC News.
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