Jan 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

10 Senate Republicans propose compromise on COVID relief package

Susan Collins.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of 10 Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), sent a letter to President Biden Sunday requesting a meeting, saying they have developed a counterproposal to the president's COVID-19 relief plan.

The big picture: The proposal includes $160 billion in spending for vaccines, testing and tracing, treatment and medical equipment. The senators said the plan "could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support," if it gained Biden's support.

  • It includes a measure to renew unemployment benefits that expire in March. It also seeks to send a new round of direct payments to "families who need assistance the most," and to send additional assistance to small businesses.
  • "Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities," the senators wrote.

What they're saying: “In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support,” the senators wrote.

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) shot back at the plan via an interview with the New York Daily News, saying: “They should negotiate with us, not make a take-it-or-leave-it offer."
  • He said Democrats would have to use budget reconciliation — passing legislation with a simple majority vote — to push their relief package forward if Republicans don't join them to take "bold, strong action."

Between the lines: Biden has said he prefers a bipartisan approach to getting his plan through Congress, writes Axios Hans Nichols.

  • But he hasn’t ruled out relying on Democratic votes alone to pass his proposal through budget reconciliation, which requires a simple majority in the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled last week that Democrats would seek to use the tactic if they could not garner Republican support.

What's new: National Economic Council Director Brian Deese told CNN's State of the Union on Sunday morning that the White House has "seen the letter and will be reviewing it over the course of the day."

What's next: The senators will reveal more of the plan's details on Monday, per Politico.

Go deeper: White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

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