Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and nine of her colleagues asked Biden for a meeting on the stimulus plan on Sunday as Democratic leaders prepared to pursue budget reconciliation this week, which would evade the Senate’s 60-vote requirement. Biden agreed to the meeting on Sunday night, and the senators will meet with the president at 5 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
In a statement, the senators said they “recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the COVID crisis.” The group includes Collins and GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Mitt Romney of Utah, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana and Jerry Moran of Kansas.
Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have complained that Republicans are coming in nowhere near Biden’s starting point for negotiations. Moreover, the omission of state and local funding is likely a nonstarter for Democrats.
“We cannot do the mistake of 2009 where they whittled down the program so that the amount of relief was so small that the recession lasted four or five years,” Schumer told the New York Daily News on Sunday.
Republicans say Biden will start off his administration on the wrong foot if he doesn’t try to compromise with the GOP on coronavirus legislation. They complained over the past few days that pursuing budget reconciliation would undercut Biden’s pledge to be a bipartisan president.