Republican senators send President Biden letter urging bipartisan COVID relief deal
Ten Republican senators issued an open letter to President Joe Biden on Sunday asking to discuss a COVID relief package the group believes will get bipartisan support in Congress.
The proposal comes after Biden offered up a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package of his own and as many Democrats express a desire to see another round of stimulus help proposed quickly.
“Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved by Congress with bipartisan support,” the joint letter reads.
The group includes Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah; Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Sen. Michael Rounds, R-S.D.; and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.
In the letter to Biden, the group argues that they “share [Biden’s] goal of providing additional assistance for our small businesses” and that “getting our children back to school and making sure that schools are able to stay open safely are priorities we strongly support.”
The letter does not include an overhead price tag for the proposal, which comes after many Republican senators and some moderate democrats balked at the proposed package advocated for by the White House and several Senate Democrats.
“I would say that it was not clear to me how the administration came up with its $1.9 trillion figure for the package,” Collins said last Sunday.
“The administration clearly is very eager to move very quickly. And we want to make sure that there is justification, especially since there’s so much money remaining from the previous packages,” she argued.
The GOP senator’s letter cites Collins’ proposal, saying funds in December’s $900 billion coronavirus relief package have not yet been exhausted; some funding from the CARES Act passed in March 2020 has also not been totally used.
Some moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have also advocated for more targeted aid to individuals, state and local governments, as well as small businesses.
“We want to help everyone that needs help. But if a person’s making $250K or $300K, I don’t think they’re in much as need as a person making $40K or 50K. That’s all I said. We’re going to target,” Manchin said on Saturday.
Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Biden himself have expressed interest in a bipartisan package but have also repeatedly said they would not pursue Republican votes at the expense of an effective package.
“Our preference is to make this important work bipartisan, to include input, ideas and revisions from our Republican colleagues,” Schumer said Friday. “But if our Republican colleagues decide to oppose this urgent and necessary legislation, we will have to move forward without them.”
The Republican senators, citing Biden’s calls for unity, argued their proposal would be an opportunity to work in a bipartisan manner.
“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 letter concludes.