President Joe Biden is set to meet on Monday with a group of 10 Republican senators who have proposed $618 billion in coronavirus relief, about a third of the $1.9 trillion he is seeking as congressional Democrats are poised to move ahead without Republican support.
The Republicans propose slimmer benefits, including $1,000 in direct payments to individuals earning up to $40,000 a year, or $80,000 for couples, according to a draft obtained by The Associated Press. The proposal would begin to phase out the benefit after that, with no payments for those individuals earning more than $50,000, or $100,000 for couples. That’s less than Biden’s proposal for $1,400 direct payments at higher incomes levels.
The cornerstone of the GOP plan appears to be $160 billion for the health care response — vaccine distribution, a “massive expansion” of testing, protective gear and funds for rural hospitals, according to the draft.
Others elements of the package are similar but at far lesser amounts, with $20 billion to reopen schools and $40 billion for Paycheck Protection Program business aid.
An invitation to the GOP senators to meet at the White House came hours after the lawmakers sent Biden a letter on Sunday urging him to negotiate rather than try to ram through his relief package solely on Democratic votes. The House and Senate are on track to vote as soon as this week on a budget resolution, which would lay the groundwork for passing an aid package under rules requiring only a simple majority vote in the closely divided Senate.
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With files from the Associated Press
Amanda Renteria, CEO of Code For America; a non-profit that partners with government to deliver services efficiently and equitably; she is the former national political director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and has been a staffer for Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); she tweets @AmandaRenteria