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GOP senators agree to $ 1.9 trillion for Biden’s COVID-19 bill

Washington – Some Republican senators have expressed concerns about the $ 1.9 trillion price tag President Biden’s proposal for new bill to alleviate coronavirusas Democrats in Congress consider following a procedure to pass legislation without any Republican votes.

Congress passed a $ 900 billion relief bill late last month, but Mr Biden and Democrats in Congress say more action is needed to stabilize the economy. Republicans note that not all of the funds provided for in this law have been distributed.

“The administration sent in a $ 1

.9 trillion proposal, weeks after we just crossed $ 900 billion, which has not yet been accounted for,” GOP Sen. Rob Portman said Tuesday. He argues that some provisions in Mr Biden’s bill, such as raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour and providing cybersecurity funds, are not related to the pandemic.

The Senate will begin the trial against Trump, then pause to confirm Biden
Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, spoke to members of the media as he walked through the Senate subway at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, January 26, 2021.

Sarah Silbiger / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democrats have the narrowest possible majority in the House with 50 seats, and Vice President Kamala Harris votes by any vote. Most legislation requires 60 votes to end the debate and propose a full vote on the Senate. That means Democrats will have to get support from 10 Republicans unless they choose to use a method of passing legislation known as budgetary coordinationwhich requires only a simple majority.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that he had told fellow Democrats that they should be ready to vote on a budget resolution as early as next week, which would be the first step in the budget reconciliation process.

“Our group is united in the fact that we need a big bold change,” Sumer told reporters. However, he said, “We always hope so [Republicans will] see the light “and noted that Republicans could vote in favor of the proposal, even if they proceed with budget reconciliation.

Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said Democrats were already working to draft legislation to reconcile the budget.

“We’re working on it right now,” Sanders said. “I think there’s a consensus. If the Republicans aren’t ready to get on board, that’s fine. We won’t wait. We’re moving forward and aggressive.”

Republican Sen. Todd Young told reporters Monday that he did not think there would be a bilateral deal for COVID unless “there is significant movement from the administration.” Mr Biden promised to work with Republicans, and Portman said on Tuesday that it would be a “big mistake” for Democrats to use budget coordination instead of trying to negotiate with Republicans to draft bipartisan legislation.

“I think it will really be the call of the White House and Democrats whether they want to work with a bipartisan team to improve legislation or want to push for reconciliation, a bill that was passed with only one party,” Republican Sen. Mitt Romney told reporters. in Tuesday.

A a bipartisan group of 16 senators spoke with representatives of the Biden administration on Sunday to discuss coronavirus legislation. The one-hour, 15-minute call was organized by moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Although some participants called the meeting a “productive” and good first step, Republican Senator Susan Collins, who attended the meeting, called it “premature” to discuss legislative action of this scale and scope. She said she would offer a more “targeted” package, especially focusing on the spread of vaccines.

Collins said she received more information about the proposal from the White House on Monday, but still needs further details.

“The administration is sending and sending us some data to give us further details about the specifics of its package. We just received this and are starting to review it. So, this is a good step, but there is still no answer to the question of the money that has yet to be distributed, “Collins told reporters on Tuesday.

Democrats have not yet ruled out using budget coordination to alleviate the coronavirus. Lawmakers “must do it,” Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said on Tuesday.

“I will not allow unemployed people in America to be pushed off an economic scale at a time when their numbers are rising,” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden told reporters Monday.

Jack Thurman contributed to the reporting.

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