Biden to meet with GOP senators to discuss virus relief bill

Jen Psaki says Biden invited the 10 to 'come to the White House early this week for a full exchange of views.'

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President Joe Biden is set to meet with a group of Republican senators who expressed interest in a bipartisan deal on the next coronavirus relief package. 

Maine Sen. Susan Collins was one of the 10 senators who signed a letter to the president this weekend. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday that Biden has invited Collins and the other signers to “come to the White House early this week for a full exchange of views.”

President Joe Biden walks to the White House residence upon exiting Marine One Friday in Washington, D.C. Biden traveled to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center earlier that day to visit with wounded service members. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As previously reported, the GOP counter-proposal is one-third of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package. 

“In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support,” the Republican senators wrote in a recent letter to Biden. “Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support.”

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“We request the opportunity to meet with you,” they maintained, “to discuss our proposal in greater detail and how we can work together to meet the needs of the American people during this persistent pandemic.”

That request for a meeting appears to have been granted. 

Winning the support of 10 Republicans would be significant for Biden in a 50-50 Senate where Vice President Kamala Harris is the tie-breaker. If all Democrats were to back an eventual compromise bill, the legislation would reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to overcome potential blocking efforts and pass under regular Senate procedures.

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Psaki also noted President Biden had spoken to both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who were both “grateful that Congress is prepared to begin action on the American Rescue Plan in just his second full week in office.”

As new variants of the deadly coronavirus that has killed more than 440,000 Americans sprout up across the country, and vaccine distribution has had serious logistical challenges, Psaki said Biden’s package is “badly needed.”

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“With the virus posing a grave threat to the country, and economic conditions grim for so many,” she said, “the need for action is urgent, and the scale of what must be done is large.”

According to Politico, the Republican senators will release more details of their plan Monday, an aide says.

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