Senator Susan collinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: US Exceeds Half a Million COVID Deaths | House Panel Advances Biden’s .9T COVID-19 Relief Bill | Johnson & Johnson is set to deliver doses to 20 million Americans by the end of March. On the money: Neera Tanden’s nomination in jeopardy after three Republican no’s Trump rages after SCOTUS rules on financial records Tanden’s path to confirmation seems increasingly unsustainable MORE (R-Maine) says that President BidenJoe BidenTikTok users spread the conspiracy that Texas snow was made by the government The problem with a one-size-fits-all federal minimum wage increase Throwing money in Central America will not stop illegal migration MOREThe $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package will likely get no Republican vote in the Senate.
And pointed to the Senate Majority Leader Charles schumerChuck Schumer Legislators Propose Bill to Create Capitol Riot Commission The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by AIDS Institute – COVID-19 Bailout Bill A Test of Unity for Democrats NIGHT ENERGY: US Will officially rejoins the Paris climate agreement | Biden’s Energy Department Orders a Radical Overhaul of Trump’s Energy Rules | Texas Power Grid Was ‘Seconds And Minutes’ From Total Failure, Authorities Say MORE (DN.Y.) and White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon Klain Capito calls on White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to continue White House press aide resigns after threatening Politico Sanders reporter says Biden sees progressives as a ‘strong part of his coalition ‘MORE as one of the main reasons bipartisan talks on the aid bill failed.
Collins said Tuesday that Biden’s top aides have refused to back out of his $ 1.9 trillion proposal, which Republican moderates say is too expensive given their preference for what they call “targeted” relief.
As a result, Biden’s relief proposal, which is expected to pass the House this week and reach the full Senate by March 14, will likely end up being approved by a direct party vote.
Schumer is circumventing a Republican filibuster by using special budget rules to pass the aid bill with a simple majority. Vice President Harris would break the expected 50-50 tie in the Senate.
“The administration has not indicated its willingness to come down from its $ 1.9 trillion figure and that is a major hurdle,” Collins told reporters.
“We have indicated that we are willing to get out of our $ 618 billion, but unfortunately the White House seems to be committed to a figure that cannot really be justified given the hundreds of billions of dollars that are still pending on the bill of December”. she added.
Collins said she and her Center Republican colleagues are looking to make changes to Biden’s proposal when it comes to the Senate, but predicted there would be no Republican support for the package in its current form.
“What we are seeing now is if there are changes that we could make. But I would be surprised if there was support in the Republican caucus if the bill comes out to $ 1.9 billion, even if we can make some beneficial changes, “he said.
Collins is the leader of a group of 10 moderate Republicans who met with Biden at the White House earlier this month. At the meeting, they proposed a $ 618 billion counter offer that limited direct payments to individuals to $ 1,000 per person instead of the $ 1,400 per person for adults and children proposed by the Biden administration.
Senate Republican moderates also omitted $ 350 billion in tax relief for state and local governments that Biden made a centerpiece of his plan.
Collins praised Biden for “doing a good job of reaching out” to Republicans in Congress, but lamented what he called efforts by Schumer and the White House staff to curtail Biden’s bipartisan impulses.
“What appear to be productive conversations appear to have been countered by the Democratic leader in the Senate,” he said.
“And a perfect example of that is when our two had our discussion in the White House with the 10 Republicans to present our plan, discuss it with the president. He was very attentive, courteous in the details, there was a great discussion, ”he said about the February 1 meeting with Biden.
But Collins said Klain, who was standing in the back of the room during the meeting, appeared to be prowling the room to quash the possibility of the president downsizing his proposal to gain Republican support.
“Ron was shaking his head in the back of the room the whole time, which isn’t exactly an encouraging sign,” he said.
Collins said he has had conversations with senior White House officials about the size and scope of the COVID-19 aid package since meeting with Biden, but those talks have made no progress.
“I’ve had conversations with people in the White House, and other members of the group have, too. But I think the sticking point is that the White House staff seem very committed to the $ 1.9 trillion thing, “he said.
Collins said she was specifically concerned about the $ 50 billion in Biden’s proposal for “unidentified” priorities.
“The first package they published the explanation at $ 160 billion, which we all think is the correct number for the COVID vaccine, manufacturer distribution for further testing, etc. But there was $ 50 billion there, you just said unidentified. I mean, that’s not acceptable, ”he said.
“We are not going to issue a blank check on ‘unidentified’. I mean, that’s extraordinary, ”he added.