“We have just had a very productive, cordial, two-hour meeting with the president and vice president and some of their key aides to discuss the next steps on the COVID relief package,” Collins told reporters outside the White House.
Collins said the Republicans outlined the details of their $600 billion CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus stimulus package. The president also explained the areas of his $1.9 trillion proposal, which still need to be fleshed out.
“It was a very good exchange of views. I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight. No one expected that in a two-hour meeting. But what we did agree to do is to 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,” Collins said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement after the meeting saying that the president “had a substantive and productive discussion” with the Republicans.
“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. 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 said, referring to the reconciliation process which the Democrats can attempt to use to pass Biden’s proposed bill.
“He reiterated, however, that he will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment,” Psaki said.
A total of nine Republican lawmakers and some of their staff attended the meeting, including Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) attended by phone.
Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal includes a federally mandated $15 minimum wage, the relevance of which to the relief effort is unclear. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the mandate will result in the loss of 1.3 million jobs.
Biden promised to deliver Americans $2,000 stimulus checks if the Senate turned blue with the victories of the two Democratic candidates in Georgia. The Democrats won, but there has been no tangible progress toward the checks the president promised.
“Their election would put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check,” Biden said while campaigning for the senators.