The first legislative request of the Biden administration comes with a significantly hefty $1.9 trillion price tag with no real plan to cover its costs, so Republicans want some answers.
Ten Republican senators co-signed an open letter to the newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden asking how he intends on funding the bill. Also, it pitches an alternative: a plan to combat the spread of the coronavirus, funds to help groups that need it, and a strategy for the federal government to cover its costs.
“Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved by Congress with bipartisan support,” the letter reads per USA Today.
The group of lawmakers that co-signed the letter includes Senators Bill Cassidy, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, Thom Tillis, Michael Rounds, and Todd Young.
In the letter, the senators collectively said they “share [Biden’s] goal of providing additional assistance for our small businesses” and that “getting our children back to school and making sure that schools are able to stay open safely are priorities we strongly support.”
But, they want to ensure the federal government can responsibly pay for it.
Collins, who led the effort of composing the letter, said she came up with the idea of addressing Biden as “it was not clear to me how the administration came up with its $1.9 trillion figure for the package.”
“The administration clearly is very eager to move very quickly. And we want to make sure that there is justification, especially since there’s so much money remaining from the previous packages,” she added.
USA Today reports the Republican letter argues in favor of Collins’ proposal and says it can be paid for with funds from December’s $900 billion coronavirus relief package which have not yet all been used in combination with some funding from the CARES Act passed in March 2020 which also have not been totally exhausted.
The new proposal does have some bipartisan support:
Some moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have also advocated for more targeted aid to individuals, state and local governments, as well as small businesses.
“We want to help everyone that needs help. But if a person’s making $250K or $300K, I don’t think they’re in much as need as a person making $40K or 50K. That’s all I said. We’re going to target,” Manchin said on Saturday.
New Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, has said he intends to move forward with Biden’s suggested plan — with or without Republican support.