Senate Republicans unveil $618bn Covid-19 relief proposal
Washington, Feb 2 (IANS) A group of 10 US Senate Republicans formally unveiled their $618 billion Covid-19 relief proposal, ahead of their meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss the proposal.
“Mr. President, 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,” the group led by Maine Senator Susan Collins said in a statement on Monday.
“We look forward to discussing our proposal in detail with you this afternoon at the White House,” the group said.
Besides Collins, the other Senators are Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Bill Cassidy (Louisiana), Mitt Romney (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia), Todd Young (Indiana), Jerry Moran (Kansas), Mike Rounds (South Dakota) and Thom Tillis (North Carolina).
The proposal would provide $160 billion for direct pandemic response, extend the weekly unemployment insurance payments of $300 dollars until July and provide $1,000 stimulus checks to lower-income Americans, according to the Senators.
In a letter to Biden on Sunday, the group had requested a meeting with the president on the relief proposal as they believed that their relief framework is capable of garnering bipartisan support.
“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 Senators wrote in the letter.
However, Democrats have complained that the relief proposal outlined by the Senate Republicans is not enough to support unemployed Americans and bolster a ravaged economy.
“The package outlined by 10 Senate Republicans is far too small to provide the relief the American people need. In particular, a three-month extension of jobless benefits is a non-starter,” Ron Wyden, the incoming Senate Finance Committee Chair and a Democrat from the state of Oregon, said Monday in a statement.
“Workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own shouldn’t be constantly worrying that they are going to lose their income overnight. An extension of benefits for at least six months is essential,” Wyden said.
Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief proposal named ‘American Rescue Plan’, which has drawn opposition from a growing number of congressional Republicans.
It is unclear whether the Biden administration would secure enough votes for a new massive relief package.
The package includes over $400 billion to combat the pandemic directly such as more funding for testing and vaccine distribution; roughly $1 trillion in direct relief to households; and over $400 billion for hard-hit small businesses and communities.