Economy Health On the Hill

Biden and Senate Republicans Hold a Meeting to Discuss COVID Relief Plan

President Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, and a group of Republican Senators have countered with a narrower $618 billion proposal.

Both plans call for $160 billion to be put toward a national vaccination program, expansion of testing and equipment, and reimbursement of hospital medical providers. While the Republican plan matches the public health component of Biden’s, it falls short in nearly every other category. 

Biden’s plan allocates $465 billion in direct payments to Americans, whereas the GOP plan allocates less than half at $220 billion. His plan also includes $40 billion in child care funding, in comparison to $20 billion in the Republican plan. 

His plan also includes $35 billion in rental assistance, $120 billion in child tax credits, and $350 billion to state and local governments. The GOP plan allocates $0 to all of these. 

Currently, if Congress does not act, enhanced unemployment insurance will expire in mid-March. Biden’s plan seeks to increase emergency unemployment benefits from $300 to $400 per week and extends them through September, and the GOP plan leaves the payments at $300 per week and extends them only through June.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan entity, unemployment will not return to its pre-pandemic rate this decade.

“Congress has a responsibility to quickly deliver immediate comprehensive relief to the American people hurting from covid-19,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “The cost of inaction is high and growing, and the time for decisive action is now. With this budget resolution, the Democratic Congress is paving the way for the landmark Biden-Harris coronavirus package that will crush the virus and deliver real relief to families and communities.”

Sources: Washington Post 2/1/21; Reuters 2/1/21; CNN 2/2/21