President Biden’s administration has pressed Democratic and Republican senators for close to $2 trillion in coronavirus and economic relief.
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said the administration was speaking to the senators as part of a push by the Biden administration to make the case for a large rescue plan.
According to the latest statistics, the COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 417,000 Americans, and is infecting more than 175,000 Americans per day.
While Congress has already authorized $4 trillion in respomse, the White House argues that another $1.9 trillion is needed to cover the costs of responding to the virus, as well as providing enhanced jobless benefits and payments to households.
“The bottom line is this: We’re in a national emergency, and we need to act like we’re in a national emergency,” Biden said on Friday before signing executive orders on economic relief.
Though Biden’s Democratic Party holds slim majorities in the House and Senate, the legislation will likely need bipartisan support to clear procedural hurdles and emerge from the Senate. However, a number of Republicans have already balked at the price tag.
Senator Mitt Romney, a moderate Republican, said he would listen to what the White House had to say, “but the total figure is pretty shocking,” he told Fox News.
“Spending and borrowing trillions of dollars from the Chinese among others is not necessarily the best thing we can do to get our economy to be strong long term,” Romney added.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer acknowledged the remarks from some Republican leaders have not been positive. He said he hoped they would see the need for the plan after Sunday’s meeting.
“But if they don’t, there are tools we can use to move forward on our own. And we will,” Schumer told reporters in New York.
He said those tools included reconciliation, which allows major legislation to pass the Senate on a simple majority.
The pressing for funding follows a call between the UK’s Prime Minister and Biden over the weekend.
A No 10 spokesperson said the prime minister warmly welcomed Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris agreement on climate change the World Health Organization. “The prime minister praised President Biden’s early action on tackling climate change and commitment to reach net zero by 2050,” the spokesman said.
“Building on the UK and US’s long history of cooperation in security and defence, the leaders re-committed to the Nato alliance and our shared values in promoting human rights and protecting democracy.
“They also discussed the benefits of a potential free trade deal between our two countries, and the prime minister reiterated his intention to resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible. The leaders looked forward to meeting in person as soon as the circumstances allow, and to working together through the G7, G20 and Cop26 this year.”