The goal is for approval of COVID relief by March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires.
U.S. President Joe Biden met late on Monday with a group of Republican senators who have proposed a slimmed down $618 billion coronavirus aid package — a fraction of the $1.9 trillion he is seeking — as congressional Democrats vowed to push ahead with or without GOP support.
Mr. Biden greeted the lawmakers in the Oval Office, joking that he felt like he was “back in the Senate” as they started the private session. He and Vice President Kamala Harris were hearing the Republicans’ pitch for a smaller, more targeted COVID relief package that would do away with Democratic priorities but could win GOP support and appeal to his effort to unify the country.
The Republican group’s proposal taps into bipartisan urgency to shore up the nation’s vaccine distribution and vastly expand virus testing with $160 billion in aid, similar to what Mr. Biden has…