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President Biden is expected to host the 10 Republicans who offered a counter coronavirus relief plan at the White House on Monday afternoon as administration officials signaled that some of the details are open for negotiation.
The group of Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, sent Biden a letter offering to discuss his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, offering a scaled-down $618 billion version.
And while Biden’s stimulus package calls for payments of $1,400 to all Americans caught up in the financial crisis created by the pandemic, the GOP plan calls for $1,000 checks.
But the two sides may be able to find some wiggle room on the income thresholds for those who would receive the payments.
Under the Biden plan, individuals with incomes of up to $75,000 and couples making up to $150,000 would get a $1,400 payment — with a cutoff for those making $300,000 or more.
But Republicans want to reduce that to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for families.
Jen Psaki said the administration doesn’t expect the final bill to look exactly the same as what Biden proposed.EPA/SHAWN THEW
Combined with the $600 relief checks already authorized by Congress in December, individuals could get a total of $1,600 under the GOP plan and $2,000 under Biden’s.
But Biden, who has been urging unity in Congress to come up with a bipartisan bill, appears willing to negotiate.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, in a news briefing last week, said the administration is willing to talk and that they don’t “expect the final bill to look exactly the same as the first bill he proposed.”
Brian Deese, Biden’s top economic adviser, noted the administration’s willingness to negotiate in an appearance Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
Brian Deese said the Biden administration is willing to negotiate.EPA/Ken Cedeno
“Well, we’ve been engaging with members of Congress from both parties and both houses over the course of the last week or two.
And the president has said repeatedly he is open to ideas, wherever they may come, that we could improve upon the approach to actually tackling this crisis,” Deese said.
And a source close to the relief talks said there is “nothing firm” on discussions about the threshold for eligibility for the checks.
“An income threshold is being discussed. [A benchmark of] $150,000 is not locked,” the person said.
Mitt Romney is one of 10 Republicans set to meet with President Biden on February 1, 2021.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
In a statement announcing the White House meeting, Psaki said $1,400 relief checks, funding to help reopen schools, aid to small businesses and money for first responders “is badly needed.”
“As leading economists have said, the danger now is not in doing too much: it is in doing too little,” Psaki said.
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have suggested they have enough votes to pass the stimulus package without help from Republicans if they use reconciliation, which allows for the passing of some spending bills by a majority of 51 votes.
The Democrats hold a slight 50-50 majority in the Senate — with Vice President Kamala Harris set to cast any tie-breaking votes.
Republicans used reconciliation to call for a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass former President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts.
Bernie Sanders has suggested Democrats have enough votes to pass the stimulus package without help from Republicans.Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Reconciliation would also allow Democrats to bypass the filibuster, which requires 60 votes for legislation to pass.
Along with Collins and Romney, the letter was signed by Sens.