President Joe Biden is receiving pushback after he claimed Republicans did not “move an inch” on coronavirus relief.
A Republican group of 10 senators, led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), wrote a statement in response to Biden’s remarks, saying, “In good faith, our group of 10 Republicans worked together to draft a sixth Covid-19 relief package earlier this year.”
“Our $618 billion proposal was a first offer to the White House designed to open bipartisan negotiations. Our package included the core Covid relief elements of the Biden Administration’s plan, such as providing an identical amount — $160 billion — to support vaccines and testing. In addition, we later upped our offer to $650 billion to increase the size of the stimulus checks.”
Taking a swipe at the Biden administration, the senators said, “The Administration roundly dismissed our effort as wholly inadequate in order to justify its go-it-alone strategy.”
“Fewer than 24 hours after our meeting in the Oval Office, the Senate Democratic Leader began the process of triggering reconciliation which precluded Republican participation and allowed for the package to pass without a single Republican vote,” they added.
Biden was asked following his remarks on Wednesday by NBC News’ Kristen Welker, “Will you have failed on your promise of bipartisanship if you don’t get Republicans on board with [the infrastructure plan], your first plan passed along party lines?”
The president added that he had said “would try to work with my friends on the other side,” before adding, “But the last plan I laid out what was available, what I was suggesting, and how I deal with it, and a bipartisan group came to see me. And then the Republican group came to see me. And they started off at $600 billion and that was it.”
He then declared that Republican lawmakers “didn’t move an inch.”
“It is if they come forward with a plan, the bulk of it is a billion three or four, two or three, that allowed me to have pieces of all that was in there, I would have been prepared to compromise. But they didn’t. They didn’t move an inch. Not an inch.”
See Biden’s comments below (starting at 22:10):
The group of 10 Republican senators penned a letter to Biden on Jan. 31 regarding their coronavirus relief compromise.
They then met with Biden on Feb. 1 in the Oval Office to discuss their proposal, totaling $618 billion — which they later increased to $650 billion as they upped the size of stimulus checks.
Biden scored his first legislative win when he signed his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, “American Rescue Plan.”
It included $400 billion for direct payments to Americans, as well as $350 billion for aid to state and local governments, $56 billion for childcare, $48 billion for small-business aid, $109 billion for public health, and more.