Ten Republican senators announced on Sunday that they had proposed to the president, Democrat Joe Biden, an alternative economic aid plan to his gigantic $ 1.9 trillion package, arguing that theirs could generate consensus between the two parties in Congress.
Although the new administration wants to vote as soon as possible on its bill to lift the country out of the economic crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic, Republicans are fiercely opposed to the figure they consider too high and which will further deepen the debt and budget deficit from United States.
“I joined a group of 10 Republican senators to write to President Biden today with the aim of proposing an alternative emergency rescue bill, capable of receiving bipartisan support,” Maine Sen. Susan said on Twitter Collins.
Collins said he asked for a meeting with the president to address the text in detail.
Details of the alternative plan will be released on Monday, according to the signatories.
In the letter sent to the government, signed, among others, by the influential Mitt Romney, a former White House candidate, and by Senator Rob Portman (Ohio), the Republicans point out that “billions of dollars of previous aid plans against the covid were not used ”.
One of the signatories, Bill Casidy, informed Fox News Sunday that the counterproposal would reach $ 600 billion, less than a third of the amount foreseen in the current project.
So it would have little chance of being accepted by Democrats, who have been asking for more help for months.
– Urgent action –
“We received the letter and will examine it during the day,” Brian Deese, White House economic advisor, told CNN news channel.
According to him, the president is “open to ideas”, but his priority is to approve the plan as soon as possible, given the economic emergency caused by the pandemic.
Democrats believe that the poorest and most exposed can expect to receive assistance.
“We just lived the worst year in the economy” since the end of World War II, he added, lamenting that 30 million Americans are hungry.
Economists also unanimously highlight the fact that implementing a new plan is essential.
Deese declared that “the provisions” of the president’s plan had been “calibrated” to overcome the current economic crisis.
The crisis caused the American Gross Domestic Product to shrink by 3.5% compared to 2019, the worst recession since 1946. This has especially accentuated social inequalities.
– Emergency first –
In early January, Biden presented a $ 1.9 trillion bailout plan to revive the American economy. He then assured that he intended to get Congressional approval in early February.
This initiative must respond first to the social emergency, rather than to investment plans to promote economic growth.
Its plan includes new checks for families, an extension of the rights for the unemployed and funds for cities and states to reopen schools, finance a greater number of tests for covid-19 and vaccines and even more aid for the most needy citizens.
In addition to considering the total amount of the bill too high, Republicans want a separate vote on the proposal to double the national minimum wage, currently $ 7.25 an hour, a provision included in Biden’s plan.
In March 2020, Congress urgently voted on a $ 2.1 trillion assistance plan to address the economic impact of the pandemic.
Then, despite the expiration of emergency aid, it was necessary to wait until the last days of December for a new $ 900 billion plan to be voted on.
In the face of Republican reticence, the Biden government hinted this week that it could use a legislative device that would allow the text to be approved by a simple majority.
Democrats have a majority in both houses, but a very tight advantage in the Senate.
“We must act now and the benefits of immediate strong action will outweigh the costs of long-term inaction,” Janet Yellen, the new Treasury secretary, told reporters at the White House on Friday.
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