The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the top-spending lobbying groups, sent an open letter to President Joe Biden and all Congressmembers, urging them to consider Republican proposals and not let his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan get approved through a simple partisan majority.
“The fastest, most effective way to provide immediate relief to American families and workers who are still reeling from the pandemic is through a strong, bipartisan compromise,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said in a statement. The open letter (pdf) was sent in Bradley’s name.
“If the majority insists on pushing through legislation using reconciliation, then they risk future success on long-overdue priorities including infrastructure, immigration reform, and climate change.”
Bradley also pointed out that raising the minimum wage should not be included in the rescue plan. He suggested that the policy approach should be “timely, targeted, and temporary.”
“Legislative proposals should be focused on confronting the current crisis and should not be used as an opportunity to enact long-sought permanent policy changes, like raising the minimum wage.”
“Well, apparently, that’s not going to occur because of the rules of the United States Senate,” Biden told CBS afterward. However, he said he still backs a minimum wage increase.
Bradley also indicated that “turbocharg[ing] vaccinations and swiftly and safely reopen[ing] the nation’s schools” should be the two most critical aspects of a relief package, from “the Chamber’s perspective.”
“The shuttering of classrooms to in-person education has significant near-term and long-term costs,” Bradley said in the open letter.
Ten GOP senators met Biden at the White House Monday night to discuss their alternative CCP virus stimulus package. They said their proposal includes more targeted assistance.
However, Biden told GOP senators that their package was “way too small,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) later told reporters the following day.
On Tuesday, Senate voted 50-49, strictly along party lines, to start a lengthy process for approving Biden’s bill with or without GOP support. The goal is to have COVID-19 relief approved by March when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires.
“They’ve chosen a totally partisan path,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “That’s unfortunate.”
Biden said last Friday that he would like to receive support from Republicans for his proposal but indicated that it would pass even without their support.
“I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But the COVID relief has to pass—no ifs, ands, or buts,” he said.
Janita Kan, Zachary Stieber, and Associated Press contributed to this report.