WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, a group of 10 Republican Senators—including U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)—accepted an invitation from President Joe Biden to travel to the White House to discuss their COVID-19 relief proposal.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki posted the following press release on Jan. 31:
The President spoke to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer today; he is grateful that Congress is prepared to begin action on the American Rescue Plan in just his second full week in office.
As has been widely reported, the President received a letter today from 10 Republican Senators asking to meet with him to discuss their ideas about the actions needed to address these crises. In response, the President spoke to Senator Collins, and invited her and other signers of the letter to come to the White House early this week for a full exchange of views.
With the virus posing a grave threat to the country, and economic conditions grim for so many, the need for action is urgent, and the scale of what must be done is large. The American Rescue Plan – including $1400 relief checks, a substantial investment in fighting COVID and reopening schools, aid to small businesses and hurting families, and funds to keep first responders on the job (and more) – is badly needed. As leading economists have said, the danger now is not in doing too much: it is in doing too little. Americans of both parties are looking to their leaders to meet the moment.
“We appreciate the president’s quick response to our letter, and we are pleased to accept his invitation to the White House tomorrow afternoon to discuss the path forward for the sixth bipartisan COVID-19 relief package,” said the ten senators in a joint statement.
Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) sent a letter to President Biden earlier today outlining their COVID-19 relief compromise and requesting a meeting.
The letter proposed an alternative COVID-19 relief proposal that they believe is capable of garnering bipartisan support.
Read the complete letter below:
Dear Mr. President:
As you proclaimed in your Inaugural Address, overcoming the challenges facing our nation “requires the most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity.” Heeding that important call, we welcome the opportunity to work with you in a bipartisan manner to combat the COVID-19 virus and provide continued support to families struggling during the pandemic.
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. 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. We request the opportunity to meet with you 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.
Addressing this public health crisis has required robust and rapid support for vaccine development and distribution, testing and tracing, treatment and supplies, including the production and deployment of personal protective equipment. We agree with you that continuing to build our capacity in these areas is crucial to overcoming the pandemic. Like your plan, our proposal includes a total of $160 billion to enhance our capabilities in these areas as well as to support our health care providers, who are on the front lines of the pandemic. Our plan mirrors your request for $4 billion to bolster our behavioral health and substance abuse services.
Our proposal also includes economic relief for those Americans with the greatest need, providing more targeted assistance than in the Administration’s plan. We propose an additional round of economic impact payments for those families who need assistance the most, including their dependent children and adults. Our plan also includes extending enhanced federal unemployment benefits at the current level and fully funding your request for nutrition assistance to help struggling families.
We share your goal of providing additional assistance for our small businesses. Included in our plan are additional resources to help our small businesses and their employees through the successful Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
Getting our children back to school and making sure that schools are able to stay open safely are priorities that we strongly support. Our plan includes resources for these purposes as well as for child care, which is a critical component to getting Americans back to work.
Finally, we note that billions of dollars remain unspent from the previous COVID relief packages. Just last month, Congress provided $900 billion in additional resources, and communities are only now receiving much of that assistance. Some of the spending appropriated through the CARES Act, passed last March, also has yet to be exhausted. The proposal we have outlined is mindful of these past efforts, while also acknowledging the priorities that need additional support right now.
In 2020, Members of the House and Senate and the previous Administration came together on a bipartisan basis five times to direct the resources of the federal government toward combatting the urgent COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these laws received the support of members from both political parties. With your support, we believe Congress can once again craft a relief package that will provide meaningful, effective assistance to the American people and set us on a path to recovery.
We recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.