Democrats moving forward with COVID relief, insist compromise is possible

Henrietta Brewer
February 4, 2021

It's incredible that after delaying a second round of direct payments (and other essential benefits included in a stimulus package) for more than eight months, and then refusing to make those payments any higher than the insulting $600 we got, Republicans are once again refusing to listen to the needs of their constituents and stonewalling attempts to offer much-needed direct relief.

President Joe Biden said he's open to refining key elements of his almost $2 trillion coronavirus package during a call with House Democrats on Wednesday, but stressed the urgency of delivering the massive relief bill quickly to the pandemic-stricken nation.

"They've chosen a totally partisan path", Kentucky Sen. and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told The Times about Senate Democrats.

Earlier in the week, Biden met with 10 Republican senators who were pitching their $618 billion alternative, and told them he won't delay aid in hopes of winning GOP support even as talks continue.

Biden's message to the caucus comes as Democrats race to deliver the president's first legislative priority, a sprawling coronavirus relief plan that so far lacks support from Republicans in Congress.

The Senate has taken advantage of their newly reclaimed majority by passing a resolution to move forward with Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package that would include $1,400 checks for most Americans.

Democrats could easily pass a comprehensive package in the House but would typically need support from at least 60 total senators to get a recovery bill on President Joe Biden's desk. As some Republicans press for the checks to be targeted to those below a certain income threshold, the president signaled some room to compromise there, according to a source on the call, "Maybe we can, I think we can better target that number", Biden said, according to the source. Biden said he told the Republicans their offer was way too small, Schumer said. "We really want to help those who need it the most". Speaker Nancy Pelosi herself interjected and steered the conversation back to the coronavirus relief bill, urging the caucus to "pass the budget bill with complete unity", according to multiple people on the call.

As the White House reaches for a bipartisan bill, House and Senate Democrats have launched a lengthy budget process for approving Biden's bill with or without Republican support. Democrats have panned the GOP plan as inadequate, and Jen Psaki started the White House briefing on Wednesday by emphasizing the differences between the Republican plan and Biden's.

But from there, the two plans drastically diverge. Republicans also would give nothing to states, money that Democrats argue is just as important, with $350 billion in Bidens plan to keep police, fire and other workers on the job.

The GOP plan would provide maximum $1,000 payments, and far fewer people would get any money.

The Republicans offer $40 billion for Paycheck Protection Program business aid.

The budget was approved on a 218-212 vote, with two Democrats joining the GOP in opposition. In the case of no Republican support and a 50-50 tie in the Senate, Vice President Kamala Harris would cast the deciding vote on the stimulus. "We welcome cooperation. There is nothing about the process of a budget resolution or reconciliation, for that matter, that forecloses the possibility of bipartisanship".

Other reports by iNewsToday