On Friday, President Joe Biden appeared to be entirely willing to do away with his promises of “unity” in order to ram a bloated coronavirus “relief” bill through Congress with the GOP’s approval.
On Sunday, Biden appeared to break down and agree to at least meet GOP leaders to discuss a counter-proposal. The White House confirmed that Biden will meet with a group of GOP Senators Monday afternoon to discuss a “path forward” on a new relief bill.
Under current Senate rules, a new coronavirus relief package must be approved by a 60-vote majority. Leftists like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have suggested exploiting a special budget loophole to push legislation through with a simple majority, and Biden seemed to agree with the notion last week.
“I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it,” Biden declared on Friday in response to questions about his position on using budget reconciliation to pass the bill. “But the COVID relief has to pass. No ifs, ands, or buts.”
Biden offered a $1.9 trillion relief framework last week, which Republicans countered with a much more conservative $600 billion proposal that appeared to be dead in the water — until Biden agreed to meet with the group of Senators proposing the deal.
The group includes GOP Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that Biden has already spoken to Collins — who has taken the lead on the proposal — and invited the coalition to the White House to discuss the two pieces of legislation.
“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,” the group wrote in a statement on Sunday.