Democrats willing to move forward without Republican support. This week, the Senate is expected to resume discussions on a third pandemic relief package as Republicans push for a new aid plan.
This Monday, President Joe Biden meets with the group of Republicans led by Susan Collins (Maine) who made a counterproposal for economic aid.
The Republicans want to send less money to families and allocate fewer resources to the battle against the pandemic, for which they suggest a $600 billion plan with a $1,000 direct check to Americans.
White House spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said that the meeting between President Biden and the Republicans does not mean “a promise” to accept or reject the plan, but to maintain a dialogue with the Republicans, as promised in the campaign.
In a press conference, Psaki added that the President is clear about the country’s financial needs in the face of the pandemic.
“He considers that the ideal package is one that is close to what he proposed,” he said.
The White House’s top economic advisor, Brian Deese, said on CNN that President Biden’s original $1.9 trillion project contemplates the challenges of the pandemic, which is why he hinted at difficulties in reducing the amount.
In addition, the president tweeted twice that Congress must complete the $2,000 per person plan, that is, add the $1,400 dollars to the $600 sent at the beginning of January.
President Biden is seeking consensus in Congress on an aid plan, but the Republican proposal is not even a third of what he needs, especially considering his most recent executive orders to address the pandemic, including the purchase of 200 million vaccines.
The Democratic position
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) has insisted that the $1.9 billion package must pass and last week emphasized that they were looking for Republican support, but that wouldn’t stop them.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) kept in the same vein, although there the Democrats have a majority that will allow them to move forward without so many problems.
Republicans are against aid that they consider excessive, but Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont), chairman of the Budget Committee, intends to move forward without their support, by putting on the table the application of the Budget Reconciliation rule, which allows funds to be approved with a simple majority.
Sanders called Republicans “hypocrites” for their scaled-back aid bill.
“At a time when working families are facing a massive crisis, my Republican colleagues have suddenly become concerned about the deficit,” he said. “That’s funny. I didn’t hear their concerns when they passed trillions of dollars in tax forgiveness for the rich and blank checks for endless wars. What hypocrisy!”
A group of 50 liberal Democratic representatives, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), is even proposing a more aggressive pandemic plan, including a $2,000 monthly aid check targeted only to those who need it most.
Democrats are looking to move forward with the relief plan this week, as the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump begins next Tuesday, which would distract from the debate over emergency funding.