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Ten GOP senators have requested that President Joe Biden meet with them to negotiate a coronavirus relief package that’s sensible, bipartisan and fiscally responsible.
In a public letter published Sunday, the senators — Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bill Cassidy, Mitt Romney, Rob Portman, Todd Young, Shelley Moore Capito, Jerry Moran, Mike Rounds, and Thom Tillis — wrote that, assuming Biden meant what he’d said, they “welcome the opportunity to work with” him “in a bipartisan manner.”
“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 letter reads.
“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.”
The senators’ $600 billion plan, described as “slimmed-down” by NBC News, contains much of the same relief as Biden’s plan but uses “targeted assistance” to place more focus on helping “those Americans with the greatest need” versus everybody.
What this translates to is less unused money. As it stands, there’s already a boatload of unused money from previous relief bills still lying around.
“[W]e note that billions of dollars remain unspent from the previous COVID relief packages. Just last month, Congress provided $900 billion in additional resources, and communities are only now receiving much of that assistance,” the senators wrote.
“Some of the spending appropriated through the CARES Act, passed last March, also has yet to be exhausted. The proposal we have outlined is mindful of these past efforts, while also acknowledging the priorities that need additional support right now.”
The proposal essentially seeks to combine legitimate coronavirus relief with a modicum of fiscal responsibility. It’s necessary because the U.S. debt is on the verge of crossing into the $30 trillion mark, and that’s not good for the country.
What’s unclear is whether Biden actually intends to do what he preaches and will actually sit down with Republicans to work on a bill.
Speaking on Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA.), one of the letter’s authors, complained that Biden has never once reached out to them.
“The president’s team did not reach out to anybody in our group, either Democrat or Republican, when they fashioned their proposal. So if you want unity, if you want bipartisanship, you ought to start with the group that shown its willing to work together for a common solution. They did not,” he said.
Cassidy also explained why the senators’ bill is “slimmed-down.”
“As opposed to the extraneous things, we’re very targeted to the needs of the American people, treating our tax dollars as if they’re our tax dollars, not just money to spend, and putting it where we need to come out of the pandemic,” he said.
Listen to his remarks below:
One notable difference between Biden’s plan and the GOP’s plan is that Republicans are calling for limiting stimulus checks to far fewer people.
“If you noticed, there’s been very good analysis that above a certain income level, that money is not spent,” Cassidy said. “Now, it may pay down debt and we’ve seen credit card delinquency go down, mortgage delinquency go down, saving rates go up, but that doesn’t stimulate the economy.”
“It’s good, but it doesn’t stimulate the economy. Our money goes to that income level where we know it will stimulate the economy, and theoretically that’s what they actually want.”
Lastly, the Louisiana senator slammed Biden for talking about unity and bipartisanship while simultaneously introducing a relief package that’s full of handouts to Democrat constituency groups.
“If you say you want bipartisanship and you want unity and you want Republicans to join, and then you have a budget reconciliation which is chock-full of handouts and payouts to Democrat constituency groups — and by the way, policies which would kill millions of jobs, which is what the CBO says raising minimum wage to $15 would do in normal times, nothing like today — you don’t want bipartisanship,” he said.
“You want the patina of bipartisanship, but you want to stick it and ram it through. So that’s not unity.”
Speaking on CNN this Sunday morning, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Biden’s open to “input from anywhere,” but only to make the bill “as effective as possible.”
“The president is uncompromising when it comes to the speed that we need to act at to address this crisis,” he added.
That doesn’t sound like a very promising form of unity and bipartisanship…
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