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Joe Biden not willing to settle for COVID-relief package that 'fails to meet the moment'

News Agencies | Updated on: 2 February 2021, 8:19 IST

US President Joe Biden is not willing to settle for a COVID-19 relief package that 'fails to meet the moment' as the country continues to be the worst-affected by the pandemic, said the White House.

Biden met with a group of Republican senators who have proposed a drastically slimmer coronavirus relief package than the USD 1.9 trillion measure he is offering.

According to CNN, the White House meeting with the 10 GOP (another name for the Republican Party) senators, led by moderate Senator Susan Collins of Maine, is Biden's first publicly disclosed Oval Office session with lawmakers since taking office last month.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the President and the Vice President had a substantive and productive discussion with Republican senators this evening at the White House.

"The group shared a desire to get help to the American people, who are suffering through the worst health and economic crisis in a generation... He reiterated, however, that he will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment," the statement from Psaki read.

"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. 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," she added.

The President also made clear that the American Rescue Plan was carefully designed to meet the stakes of this moment, and any changes in it cannot leave the nation short of its pressing needs, she said further.

After the meeting, Collins told reporters that she and her Republican colleagues had a good meeting with President Joe Biden about a new coronavirus relief package and both sides agreed to follow up with further negotiations.

"It was a very good exchange of views," Collins said on Monday moments after the meeting as quoted by Sputnik.

"I wouldn't say that we came together on a package tonight... but what we did agree to do is to follow up and talk further at the staff level and amongst ourselves and with the president and vice president on how we can continue to work together on this very important issue," she added.

Collins said they presented Biden with the provisions proposed in their USD 600 billion COVID-19 package. She added that she is hopeful Congress will pass a bipartisan coronavirus relief package.

Democrats have proposed a USD 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.


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First published: 2 February 2021, 8:19 IST