FURY has been sparked following a move to cut the stimulus checks down to just $1,000, despite Joe Biden initially promising double that.
A group of 10 Republican senators announced plans Sunday to release an approximately $600billion coronavirus relief package as a counterproposal to President Biden’s $1.9trillion plan.
The GOP senators, led by Susan Collins (Main), said they would formally unveil the package on Monday.
In a letter to the president they said they were offering their proposal in recognition of his previous “call for unity”.
“We want to work in good faith with you and your administration to meet the health, economic and societal challenges of the Covid crisis,” they wrote.
Republicans have dismissed Biden’s proposal as being overly costly, especially in light of the $4trillion Congress has already committed to fighting the pandemic.
The Republican proposal gets rid of certain elements that have already come under fire from the party, including raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
It would also reduce the size of the stimulus checks from $1,400 to $1,000 while also reducing the income limits that determine eligibility for the program.
While the $600bn plan from the Republicans is unlikely to gain much support with Democrats it will pose a challenge to Biden’s administration, writes the Washington Post, after he campaigned to unify Congress as well as the country.
Biden has a choice between ignoring the GOP move or make a genuine effort to find some common ground.
Biden economic adviser Brian Deese said on CNN’s State of the Union that the White House had received the Republicans’ letter and would review it.
But he emphasized that speed was of the essence, and declined to say whether Biden was open to the possibility a smaller overall price tag.
“The president is uncompromising when it comes to the speed that we need to act at to address this crisis,” Deese said.
“The provisions of the president’s plan, the American Rescue Plan, are calibrated to the economic crisis that we face.”
Biden’s plan comes after signs indicated a broader economic slowdown and an ongoing wave of high unemployment claims of close to one million a week.
The emergence of a highly transmissible Covid variant has also sparked fears this could lead to another wave of shutdowns will be needed.
Democrat aides have indicated the GOP proposal would not alter their plans to continue with the budget bill this week which would set the wheels in motion for party-line passage of the plan.
“The key to getting robust job opportunities is to cease any delay, any inaction, any wait-and-see around this rescue plan,” Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on Fox News Sunday.
“The American people could not care less about budget process. … They need relief and they need it now,” Bernstein said.
Biden’s plan would send $1,400 payments to individuals with incomes up to $75,000 per year, and couples making up to $150,000.
The American people could not care less about budget process. … They need relief and they need it now
Many people have been tweeting the Democrats to claim they have has reneged on a pledge to provide a $2,000 stimulus check.
During his campaign for in the hotly contested Georgia Senate run-off race winning Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock tweeted: “How would a $2,000 relief check help your family?”
During the Presidential campaign there were numerous reports about the President offering $2000 checks.
The GOP plan would reduce those thresholds to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples, according to Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who is one of the signatories of the letter.
The GOP plan would also reduce Biden’s proposal for extending emergency federal unemployment benefits, which are set at $300 a week and will expire in mid-March. The Biden plan would increase those benefits to $400 weekly and extend them through September.
The GOP plan would keep the payments at $300 per week and extend them through June, according to three people with knowledge of the plan who spoke the Washington Post.
Portman criticized Democrats for their plans to go it alone, saying this would “jam Republicans and really jam the country.”
The signers of the letter include eight Republican senators who are part of a bipartisan group that has conferred with Biden administration officials about the relief bill. In addition to Collins, Portman, and Cassidy, these are Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Todd C. Young (Ind.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.). Also signing were Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Thom Tillis (N.C.).
Cassidy criticized Biden for not trying to gain broader input from senators in both parties.
Speaking on Fox News Sunday, he said the Republican was “targeted to the needs of the American people.”
Cassidy also claimed Biden’s push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour would cost millions of jobs.
“You don’t want bipartisanship. You want the patina of bipartisanship … The president’s team did not reach out to anybody in our group, either Democrat or Republican, when they fashioned their proposal,” Cassidy said. “They’ve never reached out to us — that’s the beginning of the bad faith.”
Responding to Republican claims Biden’s proposal would give too much in aid to affluent Americans, Democrat supporters pointed to the GOP’s support for the 2017 tax law which independent analysts said cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.
“Reasonable people can have honorable differences on the precise income limits of emergency tax relief. But there’s a degree of hutzpah in the GOP suddenly on their high horse on this point when they were just fine with permanently giving people who make over $5 million more tax relief than the bottom 60 percent of American taxpayers combined,” said Gene Sperling, an economist who advised the Biden presidential campaign and served as former director of the White House National Economic Council under Presidents Clinton and Obama.
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