President Joe Biden’s first Covid-19 package is already facing hurdles in Congress that threaten to force the fledgling administration to curb some of its more progressive aims just one week after the proposal’s debut.
Early critiques from Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, two members of the bipartisan group of senators who crafted the framework for December’s stimulus package, challenged the $1.9 trillion plan.
Both expressed doubts on Wednesday over the need for another bill, especially one with such a price tag, less than one month after Congress passed the $900 billion measure just before the Christmas break.
While criticisms from the GOP were expected, odds the the bill would pass unedited grew longer after a report quoted Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia disparaging the size of the latest round of proposed stimulus checks
Dissent from either party carries weight for Biden, who entered the white House on Wednesday with a razor-thin majority in Congress. While both the House and Senate are under Democratic control, the upper chamber is split 50-50. Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tiebreaking vote.
Hoping to address concerns with the rescue plan, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese is scheduled to meet with a group of bipartisan senators in the coming days, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Deese is expected to advocate for the original plan, but also consider input from members of the GOP who could help pass the measure without the tedious budget reconciliation process that would allow it to get through with only Democratic votes.