The imagery of ten Republican senators meeting with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office supports Biden’s calls for unity, although the myriad of executive orders he has signed so far pushing a radical left agenda is anything but unifying.
Called by liberal GOP Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who was flanked by the usual suspects, Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala., and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, the Monday night meeting focused on a COVID-19 relief package — the senators introduced a $618 billion counterproposal to the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that Biden is pushing.
Having requested the sit-down, Collins hailed it as an “excellent meeting,” saying they had a “frank and very useful discussion.” While they reached no agreement, she called it a “very productive, cordial two-hour meeting.”
“All of us are concerned about struggling families, teetering small businesses, an overwhelmed health care system, getting vaccines out and into people’s arms, and strengthening our economy and addressing the public health crisis that we face,” Collins told reporters.
Noting that the GOP contingent outlined the provisions in their proposal, Collins said President Biden “explained in more depth areas that were not flushed out as much in the package, the $1.9 trillion package and it was a very good exchange of views. I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight.”
“So I think it was an excellent meeting, and we’re very appreciative, as his first official meeting in the Oval Office, that the president chose to spend so much time with us in a frank and very useful discussion,” Collins added. “Finally, let me just say that we have demonstrated in the last year that we can come together on a bipartisan package dealing with the COVID crisis. In fact, we have done that not just once or twice, we’ve done it five times. And I am hopeful that can once again pass a sixth.”
Of course, those were deals largely reached by the Trump White House, with former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leading.
The White House released a statement afterwards calling the meeting “a substantive and productive discussion.”
“While there were areas of agreement, the President also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators’ proposal does not address,” the statement said. “He reiterated that while he is hopeful that the Rescue Plan can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end.”
While expressing hope the two sides can “find areas of common ground,” the release said Biden sees the relief effort as an “urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment.”
Keeping in mind that Speaker Pelosi delayed such relief to the American people for nearly 8 months while Donald Trump was in the White House.
While the moderate Republican senators made nice for show, Democrats are forging ahead with their relief package, as seen in a Monday afternoon tweet from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“[Speaker Nancy Pelosi] and I just filed a concurrent budget resolution to instruct Congressional Committees to craft legislation to enact President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The time for decisive action is now,” he tweeted.
BREAKING: @SpeakerPelosi and I just filed a concurrent budget resolution to instruct Congressional Committees to craft legislation to enact President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
The time for decisive action is now.https://t.co/mChg5qu2X3
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 1, 2021
Others in attendance Monday included Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.
Sen. Michael Rounds, R-S.D., reportedly called in to the meeting.
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