Feb 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP senators release details of $618 billion COVID relief package

Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A group of 10 Senate Republicans that are seeking a compromise on a COVID-19 relief package released the details of their $618 billion proposal Monday, ahead of a meeting with President Biden.

By the numbers: The proposal includes $160 billion in spending toward the direct response to the pandemic, including money for vaccines, testing and tracing, treatment, and medical equipment.

  • The package includes $1,000 in direct payments to Americans, a reduction from the $1,400 that Biden included in his plan.
  • The payments would be phased out starting with individuals making $40,000 a year or more. People making $50,000 or more would not receive a payment.
  • It would provide $50 billion in relief for small businesses. Child care and schools would each receive $20 billion.

State of play: The plan does not include funding for state and local governments or an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour — both of which are part of Biden's $1.9 trillion proposal.

  • The Republicans' plan would also provide $300 in weekly unemployment benefits through June. Biden's plan offers $400 weekly through September.

What they're saying: “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 senators wrote.

  • The 10 GOP senators are Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Bill Cassidy (La.), Mitt Romney (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Todd Young (Ind.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), and Thom Tillis (N.C.).

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.

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