White House: Biden ‘Will Not Settle’ For Slim COVID Relief Package After Meeting With GOP Senators

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Republican Senators about the American Rescue Plan, in the Oval Office, Monday, Feb.1, 2021. (Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: U.S. President Joe Biden (Center R) and Vice President Kamala Harris (Center L) meet with 10 Republican senators, including Mitt Romney (R-UT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-M... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: U.S. President Joe Biden (Center R) and Vice President Kamala Harris (Center L) meet with 10 Republican senators, including Mitt Romney (R-UT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), in the Oval Office at the White House February 01, 2021 in Washington, DC. The senators requested a meeting with Biden to propose a scaled-back $618 billion stimulus plan in response to the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Biden is currently pushing in Congress. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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February 2, 2021 8:28 a.m.

The White House said after meeting a group of Republican lawmakers on Monday night to discuss coronavirus relief legislation, that President Joe Biden “will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment,” as Senate Republicans push to shrink Biden’s hefty rescue plan.

The president met with a group of 10 Republican senators led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for nearly two hours on Monday to discuss his $1.9 trillion relief package known as the American Rescue Plan, that Democratic leaders are urging to move quickly through Congress and that Republicans have countered with a whittled down $618 billion proposal.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement after the lengthy meeting to reiterate Biden’s emphasis on bold and urgent action while pointing at a failure by Republican senators’ proposal to adequately address the moment.

“While there were areas of agreement, the President also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address,” Psaki said. “He reiterated that while he is hopeful that the Rescue Plan can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end.”

Psaki added while that Biden has hopes for reaching points of consensus the President “will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.” 

Following the Oval Office meeting, Collins told reporters that the White House meeting, which was Biden’s first in-person with lawmakers of either party since becoming president, opened a door to further discussion. 

“It was a very good exchange of views,” she said, adding: “What we did agree to do is follow up and talk further.”

Collins’ comments come after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced earlier in the day that they were filing budget bills designed to swiftly move Biden’s relief package through the Senate, using a simple majority vote in the Senate, instead of the 60 votes usually needed.

Under Pelosi and Schumer’s plan to push ahead with or without Republican support is the reality that they cannot afford to lose a single Democratic vote in the Senate. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has been pressing the White House to reduce the size of its $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal, two sources told the Washington Post.

Manchin had also expressed frustration after Vice President Kamala Harris conducted an interview with a local television station last week to promote President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

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