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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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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

Go deeper

Jan 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

White House plans to bypass national media

Jen Psaki answers her first set of public questions. Via Twitter.

President Biden's team knows his national media honeymoon is coming to an end, so it's preparing to speak directly to the American people through local reporters and avoid distractions with its anti-Trumpian approach of ignoring Twitter.

Why it matters: The White House controlled the narrative for the first 12 days with daily themes and choreographed executive orders, but its communicators know they must be innovative as the press corps steps up its independent scrutiny, and they try to sell initiatives like a coronavirus relief package.

Biden flips the script — and reality

President Biden, with Vice President Harris, before signing executive actions on Thursday. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Getty Images

Joe Biden ran as a unifying centrist destined to be in conflict with activist liberals. Turns out, Biden is governing as an activist liberal constrained by centrists. 

Why it matters: Biden has outlined the most liberal agenda in a generation. But centrist Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), are potential deal-killers on climate change, spending and immigration reform.  

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jan 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats plan to marshal video, audio for Trump trial

Senate President pro tempore Pat Leahy swears in senators on Tuesday for the impeachment trial. Photo: Senate TV via AP

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC that at next week's impeachment trial, the House managers "are going to show the American people — vividly, on film — what happened there in the Capitol, what Trump said. … All of America will see it."

Why it matters: Most Republicans have said they will not vote to convict. But "the effort to present new video evidence and witness testimony appears designed to make Republican senators as uncomfortable as possible as they prepare to vote to acquit Trump," the Washington Post writes.

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