White Home begins talks with lawmakers on COVID-19 aid

WASHINGTON (AP) – Top aides to President Joe Biden have begun talks with a group of moderate Republicans and Senate Democrats on a $ 1.9 trillion Koranic relief package as Biden faces opposition its legislative presidency.

Lawmakers on the right are questioning the wisdom of raising larger deficits, while those on the left are urging Biden not to spend too much time on bilateral treatment when a pandemic kills thousands of Americans every day and costs more jobs amid tighter restrictions in many communities.

At least 12 senators met for an hour and 15 minutes in a virtual call with White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and other senior White House officials. Many are hoping to approve a relief package before the trial of former President Donald Trump, which is set to begin in two weeks, is beyond Washington’s attention.

Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, called the inaugural talks a “serious effort.”

“There was no hint of cynicism or lack of commitment to at least try to resolve something,” King said. “If they were just trying to block that, I don’t think the Packers would have stopped playing.”

King told reporters that there was “absolute consensus” among the team that the No. 1 priority was to speed up the distribution of vaccines and expand the testing and detection of COVID-19.

The White House did not seem to back down from breaking the package or reducing the overall price, even when pushing for bilateral support. There was also no discussion of moving him to a procedural move that could have taken place without Republicans, King said.

A key Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, later said, “It seems premature to look at a package of this size and scope.”

Collins said instead that he would pull the bilateral team together “and see if we could find a more targeted package.” He said in a statement that a bill with additional funding for vaccine distribution “would be useful.”

Senators from both parties raised questions about the financial assistance projections, particularly by making $ 1,400 in direct payments to Americans more tailored to recipients based on need.

The senators also wanted more information on how the White House reached $ 1.9 trillion.

Many of the senators come from a bilateral group that achieved the outline of the last COVID-19 agreement approved late last year. They participated at the invitation of the two Caucasian leaders in resolving the House’s problems, representatives Josh Gottheimer, DN.J., and Tom Reed, RN.Y., who were also part of previous discussions.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., told the Associated Press that no red lines were drawn. But he added that there was a consensus among the participants in the call “that the more targeted the more effective the help can be”.

Overall, “it was a conversation and it was not about drawing lines in the sand,” Shaheen said. “It was about how we could work together to help the people of this country.”

White House Coronation Response Coordinator Jeff Zients and White House Legislative Director Louisa Terrell also participated in the call.

Outside the gate, Biden made it clear that the rapid transition to another round of Corona relief is a top priority as he seeks to control the growing pandemic and financial crisis, while showing that he can break the blockade that has plagued many the last two presidencies.

Biden and his aides in their public comments stressed that his plan is a starting point and that finding common ground for relief must be possible, given the devastating impact of the pandemic on democracies and democracies. With more than 412,000 dead and the economy losing jobs again, Biden said there was no time to lose.

“We will continue to push because we can not wait,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House’s top deputy secretary of state. “Just because Washington has been blocked in the past does not mean it should continue to be excluded.

At the heart of Biden’s campaign, in addition to healing the wounds created by the Trump presidency, was that he was a proven bilateral spokesman who would use his decades in the Senate and deep ties with Republicans to bridge the gap. party differences.

Some Biden advisers watched with concern as the Senate, just days after the president took office, was already deadlocked over a power-sharing deal, with Republican leader Mitch McConnell refusing to step down. . If the Senate is spinning above its basics, some Democrats have wondered, how could it get to a big deal?

In addition, some of Biden’s preferred methods of exerting pressure and pressure have been curtailed by the pandemic. Although his address book remains one of the best in Washington, it is far more difficult for Biden – at least for the foreseeable future – to pursue his own personal policy.

Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, before the meeting, again expressed concern about the wisdom of the government to participate in massive deficit spending.

“If we overcome COVID, I believe the economy will return,” Romney told Fox News Sunday. “And spending and borrowing trillions of dollars from the Chinese, among other things, is not necessarily the best thing we can do to make our economy strong in the long run.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democrat from Vermont who works with Democrats, said he did not have high hopes for negotiations that would support Republicans, and suggested that Democrats might need to use fiscal reconciliation to achieve a simple majority. The procedural tool would allow Democrats to push through the approval package without the 60-vote limit usually required to pass legislation after a filibuster. Republicans used the same tool to pass tax cuts during the Trump administration.

“What we can’t do is wait weeks and weeks and months and months to move on,” Sanders said. “We have to act now. That is what the American people want. «

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Associated Press author Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.

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