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President Joe Biden pushes Democrats to p**** $1.9 trillion Covid relief package

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Loick Touankam
Loick Touankam
16 May 2021

Democrats took the first step to push President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package plan through a budget reconciliation. This would allow the measure to become law without Republican support. Ylan Mui joins Shep Smith to discuss the latest in Washington. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi

Congress took its first major steps Tuesday toward p****ing Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The Senate voted in a 50-49 party line vote to advance a budget resolution, which sets the reconciliation process in motion. The House followed suit, pushing a budget measure forward in a 216-210 vote Tuesday night.

Once p****ed in both chambers, it will allow Democrats to approve rescue legislation without any Republican support.

Democrats have contended they need to inject more money into the health and economic response as soon as possible. While a handful of Republicans hope to strike a smaller deal after meeting with President Joe Biden on Monday, they face a challenge in finding a middle ground between Democrats’ plan and the GOP’s $618 billion offer.

“Time is a luxury our country does not have,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said earlier Tuesday in announcing a vote to move forward with the budget process.

He later added that Democrats “want this important work to be bipartisan” and would welcome input from Republicans.

Democrats, who gained a narrow Senate majority last month, have made another aid package their top priority since Biden took office. They have argued the $900 billion relief law p****ed in December, which came after months of federal inaction that allowed millions to fall into poverty and hunger, did not go far enough to address the scale of the health and economic crises.

Multiple Republicans have called for money to speed up the vaccine distribution process, buoy small businesses and provide short-term relief to unemployed Americans. GOP lawmakers have questioned the need for the level of spending backed by Biden.

The Republican senators who met with Biden on Monday did not appear to make much progress toward a compromise. However, Sen. Bill C****idy, a Louisiana Republican and part of the GOP group, is “optimistic that something can happen,” he told CNBC on Tuesday.

During the meeting, Biden “expressed his hope that the group could continue to discuss ways to strengthen” the White House plan, press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. She said Biden reiterated “that he will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”

Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joined a Senate Democratic caucus call on Tuesday. During the call, the president said he is “totally on board” with using reconciliation, according to Schumer. Biden also said he told Republicans their proposal was “way too small,” the top Senate Democrat added.

Democrats’ proposal includes $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, a $400 per week federal jobless benefit through September, and $350 billion for state, local and tribal relief. It also puts $170 billion into K-12 schools and higher education institutions, along with $20 billion into a national vaccination program, among a slew of other provisions.

The Republican offer cuts from Biden’s in major ways. Stimulus checks would be $1,000 instead of $1,400, and start to phase out at $40,000 in income for individuals rather than $75,000.

It would offer $300 per week in unemployment insurance through June, $100 less weekly than in Biden’s proposal for three fewer months. It would also direct only $20 billion toward K-12 schools and not include any state, local and tribal support, which is a priority for Democrats.

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