Biden To Meet With GOP Senators Over Their Slimmed-Down COVID Package

President Joe Biden prepares to sign a series of executive orders at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office just hours after his inauguration on January 20, 2021. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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February 1, 2021 10:09 a.m.

President Joe Biden is slated to meet with 10 Republican senators on Monday to discuss the lawmakers’ push for a $600 billion COVID-19 package that would dramatically shrink down Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion proposal, per the White House’s daily schedule.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced on Sunday that Biden, having received a letter from Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) asking for a meeting on their proposal, had invited them to the White House “for a full exchange of views.”

However, Psaki signaled skepticism that Biden would agree to scaling back his plan to the degree the GOP senators want, saying that “the danger now is not in doing too much: it is in doing too little.”

During a briefing on Monday afternoon, the press secretary emphasized that the meeting would not be “a forum for the President to make or accept an offer.”

The senators said in a joint statement that they were “pleased to accept” the President’s invitation.

Their proposal would remove the federal $15 minimum wage increase and shrink Biden’s proposed $1400 stimulus checks to $1000.

With memories of the GOP’s repeated obstruction of ex-President Obama’s agenda in the back of their minds, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his Democratic colleagues have expressed wariness over Republicans’ appeals for bipartisanship, especially since they had shown little interest in reaching across the aisle during the Trump presidency.

“Our Republican colleagues, most of them have been very negative, either don’t want to do anything, or want to do something minimal,” Schumer told the New York Daily News on Sunday. “President Biden believes, and I agree with him, we need a bold, strong action.”

“Now, we’d like to do that with the Republicans, but if we can’t, we’ll have to go forward on our own using this process, reconciliation,” he added.

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