GOP senators meet with Biden on economic stimulus; no agreement made

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Mitt Romeny, Susan Collins
Posted at 3:53 PM, Feb 01, 2021

Ten members of the Republican Senate caucus met with President Joe Biden on Monday, presenting a slimmed down proposal to Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

The group of senators, headlined by Maine’s Susan Collins and Utah’s Mitt Romney, presented a $600 billion plan, which includes $1,000 stimulus checks for some Americans.

The checks are a bit smaller than the $1,400 checks pitched by the White House and congressional Democrats.

While the Democrats' plan calls on providing full stimulus checks to those making less than $75,000 a year, the Republicans want to cap full stimulus checks for those making $40,000 per year.

Biden welcomed the nine of the 10 members into the Oval Office Monday, as he was flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris, Collins and Romney. A 10th member, Sen. Mike Rounds, phoned into the meeting.

Following the meeting, Collins said that no agreement was made, but that the sides would "follow up."

"It was a very good exchange of ideas," Collins said, speaking on behalf of the 10 GOP senators.

"I wouldn't say that we came together on a package tonight, no one expected that in a two-hour meeting," Collins said.

The White House later released a statement indicating that Biden hopes to continue conversations, but that he will "not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment."

"While there were areas of agreement, the President also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators' proposal does not address," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. "He reiterated that while he is hopeful that the Rescue Plan can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end. The President also made clear that the American Rescue Plan was carefully designed to meet the stakes of this moment, and any changes in it cannot leave the nation short of its pressing needs."

The GOP senators’ proposal sets aside $220 billion in direct stimulus payments, $160 billion in pandemic response including $20 billion in a national vaccine program, $132 billion in unemployment insurance, $50 billion for small businesses, and $20 billion for schools.

Collins’ plan would extend $300 per week unemployment supplements through June 30. By contrast, Democrats are calling on $400 unemployment supplements through the end of September. The supplements are in addition to state benefits.

The Democrats’ plan also goes further in other areas, such as providing funding for broadband and distance learning, and Amtrak, which has seen a steep decline in rides.

The 10 Republican senators are hoping to be included in a plan as Schumer considers bypassing drawing in Republican support by using the budget reconciliation process to pass the bill. By doing that, however, all 50 Senate Democrats would have to agree to the proposal, which would allow Harris to cast the tiebreaking vote.

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk.Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook.