BIDEN, YELLEN SAY GOP VIRUS AID TOO SMALL
Updated: Feb 4
President Joe Biden panned a Republican alternative to his $1.9 trillion COVID rescue plan as insufficient as Senate Democrats pushed ahead, voting to launch a process that could approve his sweeping rescue package on their own, if Republicans refuse to support it, Lisa Mascaro and Josh Boak reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joined the Democratic senators for a private virtual meeting, both declaring the Republicans’ $618 billion offer was too small. They urged big fast action to stem the pandemic crisis and economic fallout.
As the White House reaches for a bipartisan bill, Democrats marshaled their ever-slim Senate majority, voting 50-49, to start a lengthy process for approving Biden’s bill with or without GOP support.
The goal is passage by March. “President Biden spoke about the need for Congress to respond boldly and quickly,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the lunch meeting.
“If we did a package that small, we’d be mired in the COVID crisis for years.”
The swift action from Democrats on Capitol Hill underscores the urgency of delivering Biden’s top legislative priority even as talks are progressing privately between Republicans and the White House, as well as with centrist Democrats, on potential changes to the package to win over broader bipartisan support.