A group of 10 Republican senators has presented a counter-offer to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan.
So what’s in the GOP’s package, which would cost less than a third as much as Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal?
Their plan, which has a price tag of roughly $600 billion, includes $160 billion for what it calls “direct COVID pandemic response,” with the same amounts that Biden’s package has for a national vaccine program ($20 billion) and COVID testing ($50 billion).
It also features $220 billion for new direct payments of $1,000, plus $500 payments for dependents. That’s down from Biden’s $1,400 stimulus checks and with stricter income limits. The payments would go to individuals making $40,000 a year or less (or couples making $80,000 or less), with smaller amounts for those making more — and the checks get phased out entirely at the $50,000 level ($100,000 for couples).
The Republican plan would provide $132 billion for unemployment insurance, funding supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 per week through June, while Biden proposes $400 per week through September. It would deliver $20 billion for reopening schools, down from Biden’s $130 billion for K-12 education, as well as $40 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, while Biden proposed a new $15 billon grant program for small businesses.
The elements of the GOP proposal are shown in the table below, which has been posted online by some Republican senators.
Sources: Offices of Sens. Portman, Romney
The group of 10 Republican senators is slated to meet with Biden at 5 p.m. Eastern on Monday.
“The bottom line is that this week’s potential action on a budget resolution is probably the beginning of a process that will take several weeks to complete and produce a bill that could be less than half the size of the Biden administration’s original proposal,” said Brian Gardner, chief Washington policy strategist at Stifel, in a note.
Gardner said Democratic lawmakers do not have 50 votes lined up in the Senate to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal, as Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has pushed back against its size and scope, and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, “who has been quieter than Manchin, might also be holding out for a smaller, more tailored bill.”
But other analysts expect the end result will resemble Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan, passed through a process called budget reconciliation that only requires a simple majority in the Senate.
“Today’s White House meeting will be cordial and both sides may compromise — but not enough to satisfy the majority of members on both sides,” said Greg Valliere, chief strategist at AGF Investments, in a note. “So the reconciliation process, starting with a budget resolution this week, still looks like the best bet.”