President Joe Biden met with a group of 10 Republican senators pushing a coronavirus relief proposal that is $1.3 trillion less than the administrations, The New York Times reports.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with the group, which includes senators like Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney, after they countered his $1.9 trillion plan with one that costs around $600 billion.
Collins told reporters that the meeting was positive but “I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight.”
The two sides agreed to continue to hold talks.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the meeting was “substantive and productive” but reiterated that Biden will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”
“All of us are concerned about struggling families, teetering small businesses, an overwhelmed health care system, getting vaccines out and into people’s arms, and strengthening our economy and addressing the public health crisis that we face,” Collins said.
GOP bill much smaller:
The two sides are far apart on a deal. Though the GOP proposal includes $160 billion for pandemic efforts, same as Biden’s, it does not include any money to help state and local governments, expand child tax credits, and provide rental assistance. Biden’s plan includes $350 billion for state and local governments, $120 billion to expand the CTC, and $35 billion in rental assistance.
The GOP plan also shrinks unemployment benefits from $350 billion to $132 billion, shrinks the fund to help reopen schools from $170 billion to $20 billion.
It would also shrink stimulus checks from $1,400 to $1,000 and cap the income limit at $50,000.
Dems prepare to do it alone:
While Biden continues to negotiate with Republicans, it is unlikely the two sides will find middle ground. Democrats are preparing a budget bill that will allow them to pass the relief plan with a simple majority, much like the GOP used it in 2017 to push through tax cuts.
Some Democrats have urged leaders to include additional measures in the package related to protecting DREAMers and essential immigrant workers given that it is unlikely the Senate will be able to use the same process again until next year.
But Democrats have the slimmest of majorities, and many worry that centrist Democrats like Joe Manchin may defect.