No Deal: Biden Discusses Virus Aid With Republicans, Resolution Not Reached

President Joe Biden met with 10 Republican senators recently and said that he is not willing to settle on an insignificant COVID-19 aid package after meeting for two hours over their “slimmed-down proposal,” according to an Associated Press article.

The Republican’s $618 billion plan is about a third of what Biden is looking for, per the article. The Republicans are looking at more streamlined benefits, including $1,000 in direct payments to individuals earning up to $40,000 a year, or $80,000 for couples.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins says the meeting at the White House ended in a stalemate with no bending on differences from either side. But she and the other Republicans say there was optimism somewhat flowing to keep the convo going.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats forged ahead to lay the foundation for passing their full package without relying on Republican support, added the report.

Biden’s plan calls for an additional $1.9 trillion in federal spending, per the report.

The aid would come in addition to the $900 billion coronavirus package that Congress passed in December and the $2.2 trillion package passed in March.

A big difference also in the plans are the nitty gritty numbers: Biden is proposing $1,400 checks for individuals earning less than $75,000. The amount would be $2,800 for couples earning less than $150,000, the report added.

Biden’s plan would also send $350 billion to state and local governments to allay service cuts and keep police, fire and other public-sector workers employed.

The Republican senators did not feature any direct relief to state and local governments in their proposal. There has been strong resistance in the GOP to such assistance, with many arguing it would reward states for poor fiscal management.

Biden also proposes $170 billion for education; the plan from Republicans features $20 billion for schools serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade as part of an initiative to get children back to school.

Biden’s plan includes a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the plan from GOP senators does not address the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour.

Biden’s also proposing $40 billion in federal spending for child care. Within that figure, $25 billion would be allocated “emergency stabilization fund” to help child care providers offset expenses necessary to reopen or stay open. The 10 GOP senators want a $20 billion boost to that block grant program.

Biden also wants a $400 per week unemployment insurance benefit, a $100 increase from current law through September, per the article. The GOP plan also extends unemployment benefits, but at $300 per week through June 30.

Both of the proposals provide $160 billion to boost vaccinations and COVID-19 testing, letting the country launch vaccination centers, purchase more rapid tests, expand lab capacity and buy personal protective equipment for first responders, per the article.

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