A group of Republican senators sent a letter to President Biden on Sunday proposing they meet as part of his “unity” call to negotiate the government’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package.
“In a spirit of bipartisanism and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 charity that builds on previous COVID assistance laws, all passed with mutual support,” said lawmakers, including Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney from Utah, wrote in writing.
“Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities. With your support, we believe that this plan can be quickly approved by Congress, with the support of both parties,” the letter continued.
“We ask for the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our proposal in more detail and how we can work together to meet the needs of the American people during this ongoing pandemic,” they said. .
The letter didn’t provide an estimated price for their proposals, but the senators said it included $ 160 billion to empower health care providers dealing with the pandemic and work to get millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine up their arms the Americans bring.
It also lists $ 4 billion to bolster behavioral health and substance abuse services.
“Addressing this public health crisis has required solid and rapid support in vaccine development and distribution, testing and tracking, treatment and care, and the manufacture and use of personal protective equipment,” the letter reads adding that capacity building in these areas is “critical to overcoming the pandemic.”
Brian Deese, Biden’s top economic advisor, confirmed that the government had received the letter and confirmed the senators’ desire to reach a compromise, but indicated that an aid package must be passed immediately.
“Well, we’ve been working with members of Congress from both parties and houses for the past week or two. We will continue to do so. And the president has said repeatedly that he is open to ideas wherever they come that we could improve the approach to actually dealing with this crisis, “Deese told NBC News” Meet the Press.
“What he makes uncompromising is the need to move around here quickly and comprehensively,” he added.
“This is a unique crisis. It’s a unique health crisis, a unique economic crisis, and it challenges all of us to work together at the speed we need to come up with a comprehensive answer, ”he said.
“I think there are many reasons for everyone to work together. This is what the American people are looking for and expecting. This is certainly what the President does,” he added.
Deese said the previous “piecemeal approach” to coronavirus relief had shown it was “not a recipe for success”.
“We have to move forward comprehensively and move forward quickly. There is a lot of room for change in this context, including people’s ideas.” But we have to act broadly here, ”he said on NBC.
Senators said they plan to release more details of their proposal on Monday, but confirmed that it contains economic relief for the financially troubled families and is more targeted than Biden’s plan.
Additional payments have also been proposed for families in need, including their dependent children and adults.
They also want more resources for small businesses and their employees under the Paycheck Protection Program and helping schools get children back into class.
“In 2020, members of the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the previous government, met five times in a non-partisan way to direct the federal government’s resources towards combating the urgent COVID-19 pandemic.
The Democrats control the Senate, which is split 50:50 for Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
So they couldn’t afford Democratic overflows to enforce Biden’s COVID-19 plan.
Other Democrats – including Senator Bernie Sanders – are considering a process known as reconciliation, in which some items of expenditure are passed by a simple majority instead of the 60-vote threshold in the filibuster.
Republicans used the reconciliation to call for a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass former President Trump’s tax cuts for 2017.
Along with Collins and Romney, the letter was signed by Senators Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, Rob Portman from Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia, Todd Young from Indiana, Jerry Moran from Kansas, and Thom Tillis from North Carolina. and Mike Rounds from South Dakota.