The policy of COVID-19 spending legislation is complicated.
Both President Biden and former President Donald Trump, who disagree on much, have pushed for direct payments of $ 2,000 to most Americans this winter, and the Republican Governor of West Virginia backs Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package as his state is Democrat Senator Joe Manchin favors a smaller package. The White House meets privately with a group of Senate Republicans who have proposed an alternative $ 618 billion package, The Associated Press reports, even though Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen dismiss that amount as insufficient and urge Democrats to go big and go fast.
Biden and his advisers “publicly tout the virtues of bipartisan collaboration,” but “they’re not pollyannaish about it,” Sam Stein reports to Politico. “They know there is no recent history to suggest that such a collaboration is coming.”, But “inside the White House there is again some surprise that Republicans are currently not more interested in working with them on COVID relief. Not because they believe Republicans philosophically support the bill, but because there are clear political incentives to do so. “
Biden and colleagues have repeatedly noted that just because the budget reconciliation process would allow Democrats to spend a large chunk of the $ 1.9 trillion package without Republican backing, Republicans can still vote for the package.
If Democrats take the path of budget reconciliation, the 10 Republicans in the Senate can either “oppose the measure without being able to stop it or work to shape it, pledge to vote for it and get credit for the benefits. it contains, ”Stein reports. “In other words: Republicans could vote for a bill that includes billions of dollars in aid for states, massive sums for vaccine distribution and a $ 1,400 stimulus check for most Americans. Or they might object on the grounds that the price is too high, or the minimum wage hike is too high, or the process too rushed. “And if they do that, a senior administration official has said to Stein, “They won’t get any credit” for those $ 1,400 in checks.
Democrats only have the party line option because they unexpectedly won both Senate seats in a Georgia runoff, Stein notes, and a “political lesson from this episode is, quite frankly: you better be on the side of giving people money. ” Trump got it. Time will tell what the Republicans in the Senate decide.
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