During a private call with Senate Democrats on Tuesday, President Biden went over the elements of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal, letting lawmakers know that this is not the time to put forward a smaller package, several people familiar with the conversation told The Washington Post.
“President Biden spoke about the need for Congress to act boldly and quickly,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters after the call. “He was very strong in emphasizing the need for a big, bold package.”
Biden met with a group of Senate Republicans on Monday night, and they discussed his plan and their $618 billion counter proposal. Biden is calling for $465 billion in direct aid payments, $350 billion for unemployment insurance, and $350 billion to help local governments, while the GOP plan offers $220 billion in direct payments, $132 billion for unemployment insurance, and no money to local governments. Schumer said Biden told the Democrats he let the Republicans know “that the $600 billion that they proposed was way too small.”
The president was joined on the call by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who also stressed the importance of a substantial relief plan. “I think it is his belief, it is Secretary Yellen’s belief, it is our belief, that if we did a package that small, we’d be mired in the COVID crisis for years,” Schumer said.
Biden also warned against “targeting” the aid, people familiar with the matter told the Post, saying that middle class Americans also need assistance, and said a lesson was learned during the Great Recession, when Congress approved a $787 billion relief bill; experts later said the United States would have recovered faster had that amount been higher.
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