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Democrats are pushing for a $ 1.9 trillion aid plan; Republicans want smaller parts


Image: President Joe Biden, January 27, 2021. Source: Instagram @potus


WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrats in Congress and the White House have rejected a statement by Republicans to split President Joe Biden’s plan to save $ 1.9 trillion from COVID-19 into smaller parts, with lawmakers apparently preparing for broad economic and viral aid without the help of the Republican Party.

Despite Biden’s calls for unity, Democrats said stubbornly high unemployment and a devastated U.S. economy leave them unwilling to waste time on Republican support that may not materialize. They also do not want to limit the size and scope of the package, which they say will provide much-needed money to distribute the vaccine, rebuild schools and send cash to American families and businesses.

Biden appealed directly to Republican lawmakers and Democrats, while signaling the need to move forward.

“We need to do a lot, and the first thing we need to do is adopt this COVID package,” Biden said Thursday in the Oval Office.

Confrontation over Biden’s first legislative priority turns the new rescue plan into a political test – his new administration, democratic control of Congress and the role of Republicans in the post-Trump political landscape.

The success will give Biden significant achievements in his first 100 days in office, spending $ 400 billion on vaccinations and rebuilding schools, direct payments of $ 1,400 to families and other priorities, including a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour. A failure would have been a resounding failure at the beginning of his presidency.

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Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate work as if they know they have borrowed time. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are laying the groundwork for an independent approach next week.

They are drafting a budget approval bill that will begin the process of adopting a package of aid by a simple majority in the Senate with 51 votes – rather than the 60-vote threshold that the Senate normally needs to pass legislation. The goal would be to take part in March, when unemployment, housing and other benefits expire.

Sumer said he took advantage of Finance Minister Janet Yellen’s advice to “act big” to withstand the COVID-19 economic crisis.

“Everywhere you look today, the tide of protectionist sentiment is flowing,” said Sumer of the Senate.

Republicans in the Senate in a bipartisan group warned their colleagues in an “open” conversation Wednesday night that Biden and Democrats are making the mistake of loading a bill to help other priorities and pushing it through Congress without their support, according to a spokesman for the conditions of anonymity to discuss a closed meeting.

Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio, a former White House budget director under George W. Bush, wants a deeper look at what funds remain from the $ 900 billion coronavirus aid package since December.

“Literally, the money didn’t go out the door,” he said. “I’m not sure I understand why it’s an emergency now.”

Biden spoke directly with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is leading a two-party effort with Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., who is committed to compromise.

Collins said she had a “good conversation” with the president.

“We both expressed a common belief that the Senate can work in a bipartisan manner to do everything for the people of this country,” she said.

The ensuing debate is very reminiscent of the guerrilla split over financial bailout in 2009 in the first months of the Obama administration, when Biden was vice president, repeating those battles for the appropriate level of government intervention.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that although Biden wants a two-party package, the administration opposes its breakup to gain Republican support.

“We are open to business and open to hear members of Congress about it,” she said, noting that lawmakers are not “walls.”

But, she said, “we’re not going to do it in pieces or break a big package that’s designed to address the crisis we’re facing.”

On Thursday, more than 120 economists and politicians signed a letter in support of Biden’s package, saying $ 900 billion that Congress approved in December before he took office was “too small and too late to deal with the severity of the deteriorating situation. “

In December, employers laid off workers, retail sales fell, and the number of deaths from COVID-19 continued to rise. As of Thursday, more than 430,000 people had died from coronavirus in the United States.

At the same time, last week the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits remained at a historically high level – 847,000 people, and a new report says that the US economy shrank by an alarming 3.5% last year.

“The risks of being too small far outweigh the risks of being too big,” said Gene Sperling, former director of the White House National Economic Council, who signed the letter.

The government said Thursday that the economy has shown dangerous signs of a shutdown in the last three months of last year, eventually declining by 3.5% for the whole of 2020 – the sharpest decline since demobilization since World War II.

The decline was not as severe as initially feared, largely because the government spent about $ 4 trillion on aid, unprecedented emergency spending to keep millions of Americans in housing, feed, work and be able to pay off debt and create savings amid crisis.

Republican allies advertised 4% year-on-year growth in the last quarter, and economic analyst Stephen Moore called the success “amazing.”

Republicans have also expressed concern about the widening deficit, which has risen sharply in the Trump administration.

Republican Sen. John Barass of Wyoming, the leader of the third-ranking party, said Biden should follow the call for unity he set out in his inaugural speech, particularly with the even division of the Senate. “If there ever was a mandate to move to the middle, it is,” he said. “It’s not let’s just get off the cliff.”

But Democrats argue that low interest rates help manage debt and that the possibility of returning to work will help improve people’s well-being.

The coming days and weeks, amid the trial of Trump’s impeachment on charges of inciting the uprising during the siege of the US Capitol, will set the tone, nature and parameters of what will be possible in Washington.


Source: AP News

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