10 GOP senators plan a new compromise COVID-19 bill that would shrink direct payments to $1,000 from $1,400

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesSen. Susan Collins of Maine with Sen. Rob Portman in the US Capitol.
  • A new GOP compromise COVID-19 bill would cap income eligibility for direct payments at $US50,000.
  • Under the GOP proposal, the payments would also be reduced to $US1,000 from $US1,400.
  • The bill’s backers want to meet with Joe Biden and are urging Democrats not to bypass Republicans.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A group of 10 Senate Republicans on Sunday announced plans to soon unveil a $US600 billion coronavirus stimulus package in an effort to strike a compromise with the Biden administration.

The Republican group, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, also requested a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss their proposal. The plan’s size is less than a third of the $US1.9 trillion plan envisioned by Biden and most Democratic leaders in Congress.

“We recognise 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 letter said.

In addition to Collins, it was signed by Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah, Todd Young of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Details about the forthcoming Republican plan trickled out Sunday. Portman said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” that it would allocate a new round of direct payments to Americans earning less than $US50,000 a year individually and married couples making below $US100,000.

According to Cassidy in a separate Fox News appearance, the direct-payment amount would also be cut to $US1,000 from the current Democratic proposal of $US1,400.

The Republican letter detailed other provisions. It would extend the $US300 federal unemployment benefit; provide $US160 billion in funds for virus testing and vaccine distribution; and provide extra money for the Paycheck Protection Program as well as schools.

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Portman, who just last week announced that he would retire in 2022 after two terms, implored Democrats not to push a large relief bill through Congress using the reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority.

Portman and the other nine GOP senators are calling on Biden to act on his calls for unity and confer with the GOP group in crafting a smaller compromise package.

“My hope is the president will meet with us,” Portman said.

Since being sworn in, Biden has emphasised he is open to seeking a bipartisan deal with Republicans on an economic-relief package. Brian Deese, a top White House economic advisor, said that was still the case.

Biden “is open to ideas wherever they may come,” Deese told NBC News on Sunday. “What he’s uncompromising about is the need to move with speed on a comprehensive plan.”

Democrats, though, are preparing to circumvent Republicans using reconciliation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats would vote on a budget resolution this week, the first step in the process.

It appears unlikely the Biden administration would adopt many elements of a GOP plan curtailing some of its top relief priorities, such as strengthened unemployment insurance.

“We have learned from past crises that the risk is not doing too much,” Biden said at the White House on Friday. “The risk is not doing enough.”

In December, Congress passed a $US900 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief package that included $US600 direct payments to Americans and $US300 federal unemployment benefits until March 14.

Democratic leaders have set mid-March as a deadline for legislative action because millions of Americans stand to lose their jobless aid after that date.

At the time, Biden, then president-elect, said the December package was only “a down payment” on a more comprehensive bill that he would seek to pass in office.

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