In an interview with the New York Daily News, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pushed back on an effort by ten Republican senators to counter President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal with an offer of their own.
The counter-offer, reportedly about one-third of the cost of Biden’s plan, would provide smaller stimulus checks to fewer people, and also include funding for health care providers, COVID-19 testing and supplies, and resources for schools and childcare.
“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 ten GOP senators told Biden in the letter. “Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support. We request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our proposal in greater detail and how we can work together to meet the needs of the American people during this persistent pandemic.”
Schumer, however, told the New York Daily News that Republicans should “negotiate with us” instead of making “a take-it-or-leave-it offer.”
“If the reports are true, it doesn’t have any state and local money in it. Look at that, just as one thing,” said Schumer.
Were Democrats to agree with the plan from the GOP senators, they’d likely have enough votes to pass it. However, incoming Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has also said Democrats have enough votes to go through with a bill with the “reconciliation” process, according to CNN. That process allows certain spending or tax bills to pass through the Senate with a simple majority, without the threat of a filibuster.
“I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday, reports The Associated Press. “But the COVID relief has to pass — no ifs, ands, or buts.”
Schumer also told the New York Daily News that most Republicans either don’t want to do anything or want to do the minimal amount.
“President Biden believes, and I agree with him, we need a bold, strong action. Now, we’d like to do that with the Republicans, but if we can’t, we’ll have to go forward on our own using this process, reconciliation,” said Schumer.
The ten GOP senators — Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) — said in the letter to Biden that more details about the counter-offer would be released Monday.
“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,” they concluded.