Republican leaders in both houses are maneuvering to keep all of their members in line against the $ 1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan, a move that would deny President Biden a bipartisan victory and could undermine the project. of law in the Senate if any Democrat breaks ranks. .
But the move represents a political risk for Republicans with polls showing a clear majority of Americans supporting an emergency rescue package and with the economy still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
So Republicans now plan to start an urgent public relations push to argue that the bill is bloated, misdirected, and contains a hodgepodge of measures aimed at pandering to the Democratic base – a message that party leaders discussed with their members. at a private Republican Party luncheon. on Tuesday and they plan to echo in the coming days, attendees say.
“If Democrats continue down the path they are on and that is to not try to get Republican input or ideas, it will be difficult for any of our members, even those who are inclined to, vote for that, to vote for anything. “Senate Minority Leader John Thune told CNN. “So if it’s in its current shape, it’s hard to see a lot of Republicans, if any, in favor, especially given the way the Democrats have approached it.”
At luncheon Tuesday, Republican senators spoke at length about the Democrats’ bill, with attendees criticizing it in harsh terms. They discussed their strategy for putting Democrats in a tough political spot when the amendment votes take place next week in the Senate, while also introducing some mid-term amendments that could attract some Democratic support, according to attendees.
And then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized the Democrats’ plan as “totally partisan,” while acknowledging that his party had work to do on its message in the face of public support for the Biden plan.
“I’m sure everyone would love to get a check,” McConnell said, referring to checks up to $ 1,400 for certain people in the proposal. “But they still haven’t learned what else is in it and part of our job as a substantial minority, remember we’re in a 50-50 Senate here, is to make sure the American people fully understand what is being proposed.”
Democrats, however, argue that they have a mandate after winning the White House and Senate and are taking urgent steps to deliver aid to an American public suffering under the devastating cost of the ongoing pandemic. They have insisted they are willing to work with Republicans, but they will not dilute the plan, a lesson they say they learned from then-President Barack Obama’s first stimulus plan in 2009.
CNN’s Olanma Mang, Ted Barrett, and Lauren Fox contributed to this article.