Washington, United States:
Officials in President Joe Biden’s administration tried to allay Republicans’ concerns that his $ 1.9 trillion pandemic aid proposal was too expensive in a Sunday conversation with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, some of whom were on a smaller plan urged the distribution of vaccines.
Legislators on both parties said they had agreed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority, but some Republicans turned down such an extensive package just a month after passing a $ 900 billion Relief measure by Congress.
“It seems premature to consider a package this size and scope,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins, who spoke to Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, and other top Biden aides.
Collins agreed that additional funding would be needed for vaccine distribution, but on a “limited” bill, and planned to discuss such a move with other lawmakers.
Senator Dick Durbin, the Senate Democrat No. 2, said the call showed that coronavirus relief was Biden’s top priority.
“We can’t wait,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. “Just because Washington has been stalled before doesn’t mean it has to remain stalled.”
The White House didn’t answer the call, but Jared Bernstein, a member of Biden’s Economic Advisory Council, later told CNN that the $ 900 billion relief passed in late 2020 would only help “a month or two”.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 417,000 Americans, put millions of people out of work, and infects more than 175,000 Americans every day.
Biden, who took office on Wednesday, campaigned for a promise to take aggressive action against the pandemic, which his predecessor, President Donald Trump, had often downplayed.
The Trump administration fell far short of its target of 20 million Americans vaccinated by the end of 2020 and left no plan for distributing the vaccine to millions of Americans, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Sunday.
While Congress has already approved $ 4 trillion for the response, the White House says the additional $ 1.9 trillion will be needed to cover the cost of responding to the virus and improving household benefits Unemployment and payments to offer.
At least 16 Senators and two members of the House of Representatives – Democratic Representative Josh Gottheimer and Republican Tom Reed, co-chair of the non-partisan House Problem Solvers Caucus – attended the call.
“The bottom line is: we are in a national emergency and must act as if we were in a national emergency,” said Biden on Friday before signing executive orders for economic relief.
Biden outlined his package earlier this month, saying that while it wouldn’t be cheap, “if we don’t, it will cost us dearly.”
Although Biden’s Democratic Party tightly controls the House and Senate, the legislature will likely need bipartisan support to become law.
In addition to the price of the package, there are concerns about a proposal to send out stimulus checks for $ 1,400 to most Americans, even some with relatively high incomes.
“The additional stimulus testing the president is proposing is not targeted,” Collins said in a statement emailed. For example, she said that a family of five in their home state of Maine with incomes greater than $ 300,000 who would receive a partial check was unlikely to suffer economic damage.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney said he would listen to the White House but told Fox News Sunday that the $ 1.9 trillion figure was “shocking” and that borrowing large sums of money to fund the bill wasn’t “for the best.” “for the US economy is long-term.
Senator Angus King, an independent Democrat party leader, said the call’s senators had been looking for answers on how much of the $ 900 billion spent last month had been spent.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer admitted that some Republicans’ comments had not been positive but expressed hope they would see the need after Sunday’s call.
“But if not, there are tools with which we can develop ourselves. And we will,” Schumer told reporters in New York. He said that this included “reconciliation” that would allow important laws to pass the Senate by simple majority.
Biden said he wanted to unite a divided country. Trump’s tenure ended with his second House impeachment after supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, fatally beating his election loss.
Efforts to alleviate the coronavirus are hampered by Trump’s impending Senate impeachment, which not only threatens to deepen divisions between Democrats and Trump’s Republicans, but could also take time that could be devoted to finalizing a package.
The senators said they were hoping to pass laws before the trial began the week of February 8th.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)