Republicans urge Joe Biden to scale down $1.9 trillion COVID relief

Ten Republicans in the United States Senate have offered a counterproposal to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, saying a scaled-down version of the aid package would garner bipartisan support in Congress.

In a letter to Biden on Sunday, the legislators said their version of the bill would include $160bn for COVID-19 vaccines, testing, treatment and personal protective equipment, and would call for more targeted relief than Biden’s plan to issue $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans.

The letter’s signatories include Republican Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney – some of Biden’s most likely cross-aisle cooperators.

“In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support,” the letter said, without providing a total cost for the proposal.

The lawmakers asked to meet with Biden in the coming days, adding: “Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support.”

One of the signatories, Senator Bill Cassidy, said the package would cost about $600bn, the Associated Press reported.

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Capitol Hill, said on Sunday that the Republican lawmakers’ proposal – at less than a third of Biden’s relief package – would be a “big sell” for the president.

“Lawmakers and the Biden administration say what’s important here is not as much bipartisanship, as speed,” Culhane said. “They say Americans are hurting now – which they are – and they want to be able to send them this help as soon as possible.” Aljazeera


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