- Biden strongly indicated that he is prepared to pass his $1.9 trillion stimulus package with only Democratic votes.
- “They’re just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go,” Biden said of talks with Republicans.
- He suggested negotiations risked delaying the passage of urgently needed federal aid.
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President Joe Biden gave one of the strongest indications yet on Friday that he is prepared to pass his $1.9 trillion emergency spending package with only Democratic votes.
While delivering remarks at the White House, Biden said he wanted to “act fast” and emphasized his large plan was designed to address the immense challenges facing the nation.
“I’d like to be doing it with the support of Republicans. I’ve met with Republicans, there’s some really fine people want to get something done,” he said. “But they’re just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go.”
Biden continued: “I’ve told both Republicans and Democrats, that’s my preference to work together. But if I had to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation, or compromising on a bill that’s up to the crisis it’s an easy choice.”
The remarks appeared to reflect a new willingness from the president to embark on a partisan path to get his rescue package approved faster. Democrats kicked off efforts this week to pass the plan through budget reconciliation. It’s a legislative maneuver allowing bills to be enacted through a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the 60 generally required in the Senate.
The plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks, $400 federal unemployment benefits through September, and assistance to state and local governments among other provisions. It has generated strong opposition from Republicans who argue it is a colossal level of untargeted spending on progressive priorities.
Up until now, the White House has courted a group of 10 Republican senators to draw their votes and add a layer of bipartisanship to the relief effort. The group led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine put forward a $618 billion measure on Monday, but Democrats rejected it as too meager.
They said in a letter to the White House on Thursday that “we remain committed to working in a bipartisan fashion and hope that you will take into account our views as the legislative process moves forward.”
Senior administration officials have all but dismissed their plan at this stage.
“We’re not going to sit here and wait for an ongoing negotiation,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Friday news briefing. “Frankly we haven’t received an offer in return, a response offer to what the president has proposed.”
It remains unclear whether the GOP senators will attempt to continue negotiations with the White House.
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