President Biden met with 10 Senate Republicans on Monday night to discuss coronavirus relief legislation, and while no deal was reached, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said they had “a very good exchange of views.”
“I wouldn’t say we came together on a package tonight. No one expected that in a two-hour meeting,” Collins told reporters after leaving the Oval Office. “But what we did agree to do is follow up and talk further, at the staff level and amongst ourselves and with the president and vice president, on how we can continue to work together on this very important issue.”
Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package, and the group of Republican senators countered with a $618 billion plan. Their package matches Biden’s $160 billion price tag to take care of COVID-19 vaccinations and increased testing, but calls for smaller direct aid payments to Americans and no money for state and local governments.
Earlier Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) began the process of advancing a budget bill that will allow Democrats to pass Biden’s relief package with a simple majority vote in the Senate, so no Republican votes will be necessary. “Congress has a responsibility to quickly deliver immediate comprehensive relief to the American people hurting from COVID-19,” the Democratic leaders said in a statement. “The cost of inaction is high and growing, and the time for decisive action is now.”
Originally published February 1, 2021, 5:36 PM