In a letter to Biden sent on Sunday, 10 Senate Republicans informed the president that they are working on a counterproposal focusing on spending $160 billion on vaccines, testing, treatment and personal protective equipment. Led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the senators said that if Biden signs off on their framework, “we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support.”
“In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support,” the senators wrote to Biden. “We request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our proposal in greater detail and how we can work together to meet the needs of the American people during this persistent pandemic.”
The letter is a clear attempt to head off Democratic efforts to pursue budget reconciliation as the pathway to the next round of coronavirus aid. This week, Democrats in both chambers are planning to pass budget resolutions allowing the party to approve Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan without GOP votes. Still, that path has little room for error: All 50 Senate Democrats would need to be on board, and House leaders could afford few defections.