Congress eyes a last-minute effort at bipartisanship over coronavirus relief

There is one show in town on Monday, and it is that meeting between 10 Republican senators and Biden. We also expect to see more detail on the Republican Covid-relief plan.

As last week drew to a close and Democrats began publicly charting their timeline for reconciliation, a group of moderate Republican senators was watching with frustration. They thought this was going to go differently. They thought there would be more time to negotiate, and most of all, they were uncomfortable with the fact that they, too, thought the country needed Covid-19 relief and they were about to be forced to choose between everything Democrats wanted or absolutely nothing.

That’s when a group of Senate Republicans and aides came up with the idea they needed to offer an alternative not just as an opening volley to the Biden administration but as a blueprint for the country on the type of plan Republicans stood for.

The plan began taking shape Friday. That afternoon, Republicans held their own meeting. They garnered support from two additional members in an effort to show the White House this effort was serious and could actually lead to a legislative outcome, and they asked for a meeting. The expectation is we will see paper Monday on this plan, likely in the afternoon when Republicans get it scored by the Congressional Budget Office.

Even if Biden did agree to lower the overall price tag of his proposal and make changes to his bill like getting rid of the increase to a $15 minimum wage and doing away with the expansion of the child tax credit, you have to assume Biden would lose Democratic votes. Biden’s test on this legislation is so much bigger than just his ability to bring Republicans on board. He also has to hold his own party together, and losing Democratic votes at the beginning of one’s administration isn’t exactly a good way to start.

Despite the fact that Biden could surely cut a deal with Republicans, it’s not clear that politically it’s a better move for him.

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