February 25, 2021

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Democrats vote to start muscling $1.9T bailout package through without Republican support

Joe Biden told Republicans their $600 billion COVID relief plan was ‘too small’ as the...

Joe Biden told Republicans their $600 billion COVID relief plan was ‘too small’ as the Senate voted to proceed with a way to muscle through the president’s trillion dollar proposal without GOP support.

The motion passed 50-49 on a party line vote. Republican Senator Pat Toomey was absent, meaning Vice President Kamala Harris wasn’t need to break a tie although she was on Capitol Hill during the vote in case she was needed. 

Ahead of the vote, President Biden made a virtual appearance at Senate Democrats’ weekly luncheon on Tuesday, where he revealed the details of his meeting with GOP senators the previous night. The ten lawmakers had proposed a compromise relief package that was one-third of the amount the president wanted.

‘He said that he told Senate Republicans that the $600 billion dollars that they proposed was way too small,’ Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said after the lunch. 

Schumer conceded there may have to be some compromise from Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal that Republicans has protested as too costly.

‘President Biden said he told Republicans he’s willing to make some modifications,’ Schumer said without going into detail as to what that could entail. 

After his remarks, the Senate approved a procedural motion to move ahead on the budget resolution, which sets the stage for Congress to pass Biden’s COVID plan without any Republican support. 

'He said that he told Senate Republicans that the $600 billion dollars that they proposed was way too small,' Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer revealed about President Biden's meeting with Senate Republicans

‘He said that he told Senate Republicans that the $600 billion dollars that they proposed was way too small,’ Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer revealed about President Biden’s meeting with Senate Republicans 

Biden warned Senate Republicans after their meeting Monday night he would not ‘settle’ for their smaller COVID proposal – seen as a sign the president was willing to pass a relief package without their help.

President Biden held a two-hour meeting with the f 10 Republican senators in the Oval Office but the two sides did not come together on a compromise measure.

In a statement after the meeting, the White House indicated it was willing to move forward with a plan from Democratic congressional leaders to pass coronavirus relief without Republican support through a legislative process known as ‘reconciliation.’

And, the White House warned, Biden would not ‘settle’ for a measure that was not large enough – echoing talking points Democrats have pushed, saying more relief was needed for Americans suffered the economic fallout from the pandemic.

The president ‘reiterated that while he is hopeful that the Rescue Plan can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. ‘The President also made clear that the American Rescue Plan was carefully designed to meet the stakes of this moment, and any changes in it cannot leave the nation short of its pressing needs.’

‘He reiterated, however, that he will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment,’ she added.

The 10 Republican senators proposed a compromise plan that is about one-third of what Biden wants to spend, clocking in at $600 billion for coronavirus relief. He wants a $1.9 trillion package. 

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who has taken the lead for Republicans on the COVID relief issue, called it a ‘productive cordial two-hour meeting’ with the president.

But, she noted, there was no deal. 

‘It was a very good exchange of the views. I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight. No one expected that in a two-hour meeting, but what we did agree to do is to follow up and talk further at the staff level and amongst ourselves, and with the president and vice president on how we can continue to work together on this very important issue,’ she told reporters after it ended.

The lack of an announcement of the deal is an indication Biden doesn’t need one – and he knows it. 

Shortly before his meeting with GOP senators began, Democratic Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer gave Biden an out. They introduced their budget proposal, which included a way for the president to pass his $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan without any Republican support. 

Biden didn’t show his hand when reporters were let into the Oval Office for a photo spray at the start of his meeting with the Republicans.  

The president didn’t answer any questions but joked he felt right at home surrounded by senators. 

‘I feel like I’m back in the Senate,’ the president quipped as he sat in the Oval Office with the Republicans seated socially distanced around him and Vice President Kamala Harris. Everyone wore face masks.   

President Joe Biden (C) and Vice President Kamala Harris (L) meet with Republican Senators, lead by Senator Susan Collins (2nd R), alongside Lisa Murkowski (R), Senator Mitt Romney (bottom L) and Bill Cassidy (bottom R) to discuss a coronavirus relief plan

President Joe Biden (C) and Vice President Kamala Harris (L) meet with Republican Senators, lead by Senator Susan Collins (2nd R), alongside Lisa Murkowski (R), Senator Mitt Romney (bottom L) and Bill Cassidy (bottom R) to discuss a coronavirus relief plan

President Joe Biden (C) and Vice President Kamala Harris (L) meet with Republican Senators, lead by Senator Susan Collins (2nd R), alongside Lisa Murkowski (R), Senator Mitt Romney (bottom L) and Bill Cassidy (bottom R) to discuss a coronavirus relief plan

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who has taken the lead for Republicans on the COVID relief issue, called it a 'productive cordial two-hour meeting' with the president but noted there was no deal

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who has taken the lead for Republicans on the COVID relief issue, called it a 'productive cordial two-hour meeting' with the president but noted there was no deal

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who has taken the lead for Republicans on the COVID relief issue, called it a ‘productive cordial two-hour meeting’ with the president but noted there was no deal

Nine of the 10 Republican senators were in the Oval Office. Republican Senator Mike Rounds called into the meeting. 

After the sit down, Collins noted the senators were appreciative Biden picked them for his first Oval Office meeting as president with members of Congress.

‘We are very appreciative, that as his first official meeting, in the Oval Office of the president, he chose to spend so much time with us, in a frank and very useful discussion,’ she said.

She expressed hope that a bipartisan deal was possible.

‘Finally let me just say, that we have demonstrated, in the last year, that we can come together, on a bipartisan package, dealing with the COVID crisis. In fact we’ve done that not just once, or twice, we’ve done it 5 times,’ she said. ‘I am hopeful, that we can once again, pass a 6 bipartisan COVID relief package.’

The Republican senators also did not answer any questions.

When all is said and done, Biden may not need any of their votes. 

Pelosi and Schumer’s resolution contains a provision for a process called ‘reconciliation’ – a legislative procedure that allows them to prevent the use of the filibuster in the Senate and lets the legislation pass with a simply majority of 51 votes. 

With an even 50-50 split in the upper chamber and Vice President Kamala Harris the tie breaker, Biden would be able to get his $1.9 trillion plan without any Republicans on board. 

Republicans have protested such a move, saying it goes against Biden’s call for unity.  

Republican senators sat socially distanced in the Oval Office and everyone wore face masks

Republican senators sat socially distanced in the Oval Office and everyone wore face masks

Republican senators sat socially distanced in the Oval Office and everyone wore face masks

'I feel like I'm back in the Senate,' President Joe Biden quipped as he sat down with Republican senators in the Oval Office

'I feel like I'm back in the Senate,' President Joe Biden quipped as he sat down with Republican senators in the Oval Office

‘I feel like I’m back in the Senate,’ President Joe Biden quipped as he sat down with Republican senators in the Oval Office

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer introduced their budget proposal that also will pave the way for Joe Biden to pass his $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan without any Republican support

President Joe Biden told Republican Senator Susan Collins he was 'anxious' to talk COVID relief

President Joe Biden told Republican Senator Susan Collins he was 'anxious' to talk COVID relief

President Joe Biden told Republican Senator Susan Collins he was ‘anxious’ to talk COVID relief

At her daily press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki downplayed expectations of the sit down.

She said of Biden’s meeting with the GOP Senators: ‘What this meeting is not is a forum for the president to make or accept an offer.’

She added of Biden: ‘His view is that the size of the package needs to be commensurate with a crisis crises we’re facing the dual crises we’re facing. And why he proposed a package that’s $1.9 trillion.’

Biden spoke with Schumer and Pelosi on Sunday about relief legislation.

Psaki’s hardline along with the resolution from the Democratic leadership appears to leave little room for compromise to emerge from the White House meeting. 

The ten Republican votes, combined with the backing of 50 Democrats and independents, would be enough to move bipartisan legislation quickly through the Senate. 

‘Mr. President, we recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your administration to meet the health, economic and societal challenges of the COVID crisis,’ the 10 GOP senators – including Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski – said in a statement on Monday. 

Announcing the Democratic proposal on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, Schumer said: ‘The only thing we cannot accept is a package that is too small or too narrow to pull our country out of this emergency. We cannot repeat the mistake of 2009 and we must act very soon to get this assistance to those so desperately in need.’

He noted that Republican input would be welcome. 

‘There is nothing in this process that will preclude it from being bipartisan. We welcome Republican input,’ he said. 

It’s unclear when the Senate will vote on the plan. The House is posed to pass it on Wednesday. 

Republican Senator Susan Collins said they had a 'cordial' two-hour meeting with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on Monday night

Republican Senator Susan Collins said they had a 'cordial' two-hour meeting with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on Monday night

Republican Senator Susan Collins said they had a ‘cordial’ two-hour meeting with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on Monday night

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia

Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona

Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona

Schumer will need the support of every Democratic senator, including conservative Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona

The proposal from the Democratic leadership is in line with what Biden wanted in his COVID relief measure: $1,400 per-person and per-child direct payments, an extension of Unemployment Insurance programs through September 2021, and more money for state and local governments. 

The GOP offer doesn’t include money for state and local governments, includes a smaller weekly unemployment benefit and a smaller stimulus check. 

Schumer will need the support of every member of his caucus in order to get both through the Senate.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia refused to say last week if he would vote for the resolution.

Harris did local interviews in West Virginia and Arizona last week, which was seen as the White House putting pressure on Manchin and Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

Manchin expressed anger about Harris’ interviews and a White House official reached out to him to apologize.

‘There’s no apologies needed,’ Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. ‘It was a mistake. They made a mistake. And, and we understand. We move on, you can’t dwell on those things.’

 

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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