GOP senators propose compromise on COVID-19 relief


Ten Senate Republicans led by Susan Collins of Maine proposed their own framework on Sunday for a COVID-19 relief package in an apparent attempt to stave off accusations the GOP is unwilling to work with the Biden administration on pandemic aid.

In a letter released by Collins's office, the senators, including Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), urged President Biden to meet with them and discuss "how we can work together to meet the needs of the American people during this persistent pandemic."

"We recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis," they wrote.

Their plan would include another round of economic impact payments targeted to "those families who need assistance the most" and extend federal unemployment benefits.

"We note that billions of dollars remain unspent from the previous COVID relief packages," the senators wrote.

"Just last month, Congress provided $900 billion in additional resources, and communities are only now receiving much of that assistance. Some of the spending appropriated through the CARES Act, passed last March, also has yet to be exhausted," the GOP senators added. "The proposal we have outlined is mindful of these past efforts, while also acknowledging the priorities that need additional support right now."

Cassidy said on "Fox News Sunday" that the GOP senators' package would total $600 billion and include direct payments of $1,000.

“We’ve received the letter and will be reviewing it over the course of the day,” National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

A $1.9 trillion plan proposed by the Biden administration would include a third round of direct stimulus payments to Americans — this time of $1,400 — and provide billions for other measures such as rental assistance and increases to SNAP benefits.

Democrats including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, have warned that Democrats would seek to pass the plan through the budget reconciliation process, which requires just 51 votes, if GOP senators do not work with them on pandemic relief.

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