(Bloomberg) — A group of 10 Republican senators wrote to President Joe Biden with an alternative proposal on Covid-19 economic stimulus that they say would gain bipartisan support, and urged a meeting to discuss it.
“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 in the letter dated Sunday.
“We’ve received the letter and certainly will be reviewing it over the course of the day,” Brian Deese, the director of the White House National Economic Council, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
A Republican aide said the proposal is expected to be in the $500 billion to $600 billion range, versus Biden’s plan for a $1.9 trillion stimulus that GOP lawmakers have rejected. An official score hasn’t yet been completed.
The group said in their letter that they’re in favor of $160 billion for virus control measure and for some form of more targeted direct stimulus checks.
The senators said they plan to unveil their plan on Monday.
Having 10 Republicans on board is significant because that is the number to reach 60 votes in the Senate to pass bills under normal procedures, assuming the chamber’s 50 Democrats would be on board.
It offers a glimmer of hope for a quick bipartisan bill to deal with urgent needs, including expiration of unemployment benefits, even as Democrats are free to pursue the rest of the Biden proposal using a partisan budget tool.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is threatening as soon as Tuesday to move the Senate toward the budget process, which would allow 50 Democrats to pass some parts of the Biden plan without any Republican cooperation.
There are limits on what can be done in budget reconciliation and spending on health care and education, and state and local aid may be excluded.
The GOP aide, who asked not to be identified, said that if Biden took up the Republicans’ proposal he could attempt some of more contentious elements of his plan later via reconciliation.
Republicans have raised objections to Biden‘s attempt to use the package to raise the national minimum wage to $15 per hour as well as proposals to expand child tax credits and provide aid to state and local governments.
Senators signing Sunday’s letter included Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Rob Portman of Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.