Senate Republicans Propose Alternative COVID-19 Relief Plan
By Leo Pond
Armed with a message of unity and cooperation, President Biden has signed a flurry of executive orders, overturning many Trump-era policies.
Biden’s administration and the Democrats have crafted a 1.9 trillion dollar relief bill. Providing recovery packages has remained one of the key issues at the forefront of his agenda. While the Democrats hold both Congressional majorities and could theoretically bypass Republican objections, razor-slim margins in the Senate and adherence to his platform of bipartisan collaboration have led Biden to consider a counter-proposal by a group of Senate Republicans.
10 GOP Senators have created a revised bipartisan relief bill and were set to meet with President Biden for discussion on February 1st but Biden didn’t show support for the bill. Some notable departures in this new proposal include a funding drop to 600 billion dollars, lower stimulus payments, and more restrictions on eligibility for direct payments. Additionally, the GOP alternative may not include student debt forgiveness or a raised minimum wage, whereas the Democratic plan was speculated to include both of them.
Lead Democrats, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have remained vocal about moving forward with their relief package; they argue that the need is great and time should not be wasted. Democratic Senators can potentially pass the Democratic plan using a process called reconciliation. These budgetary rules would allow Biden’s package to pass with the simple majority of 51 that the Democrats possess, avoiding a filibuster from GOP Senators. Some Republican senators have not yet expressed support or disapproval for the alternative relief bill. Ultimately, President Biden will get the final say on whether the alternative package goes anywhere, or not.