Republicans looking to spend as little as possible to provide pandemic relief to America’s citizens are raising a stink over what they see as the Biden administration’s failure to bow to their parsimonious wishes while putting together the legislation authorizing an economic package to help those suffering from the financial effects of the COVID outbreak.
After a group of 10 Republican senators met with President Biden in the Oval Office at the beginning of the month, proferring a plan proposing radically reduced spending on his signature pandemic relief initiative, some of those GOP senators involved are now complaining that the White House has subsequently dropped the ball on further negotiations.
According to Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) — the de facto leader of the moderate Republicans who sought the meeting — talks with the Biden Administration have “stalled,” congressional correspondents are reporting.
Forbes Magazine is reporting that Collins considers Biden as “doing a ‘good job at outreach,’ as are Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who she accused of having ‘countermanded’ talks, and White House chief of staff Ron Klain, who she said was ‘shaking his head in the back of the room’ during the meeting.”
Senator Collins’ major objection to the bill is its $1.9 trillion price tag, which apparently wasn’t a consideration when she voted to approve a GOP-sponsored tax cut of an equal amount in the first year of Donald Trump’s disastrous presidency, but that she now considers a “major obstacle.”
Another moderate Republican senator, Mitt Romney (R-UT) faulted the “very little effort on the part of the White House” to negotiate with his party, saying that the administration has failed to even schedule a follow-up meeting after their first lobbying effort.
Senator Romney’s greatest problem with the pandemic relief bill being proposed by the Biden administration is the $350 billion in the bill for aid to state and local governments, who have seen their tax revenues collapse during the pandemic and need help to continue to provide services such as police and fire protection.
It’s so strangely hypocritical of Republicans to accuse Democrats of pursuing a radical agenda to “defund the police” when it is their own opposition to providing aid to local governments that poses the biggest danger to police budgets currently in existence.
Romney defended his opposition to rescuing state and local governments by citing statistics that indicate that some states are actually running budget surpluses and shouldn’t be given any additional funds. He argues that it would be a “great loss for the American people” if Republicans were denied input on such issues.
The Senate GOP Whip, Senator John Thune (R-SD), doubted that the pandemic relief bill would attack many Republican votes as currently drafted and lamented that their party’s input was being ignored in favor of the majority of Americans’ favorable opinion of the Biden administration’s efforts.
“I’ve got all these members who wanted to have some voice in it and sit down with their side and work out something they could work out with bipartisan support,” Sen. Thune said, adding that the sense of being unconsulted “makes it hard for any of our members, even those that might be inclined to do so, to vote for it. To vote for anything.”
It is somehow satisfying to see these Republicans squirming when they are faced with the exact same tactics that they used to push through their tax cut giveaway to America’s billionaires without a single Democratic vote using the same budget reconciliation procedure that will likely allow Democrats to pass the pandemic relief bill without their dilutional influence.
With the House likely to pass the bill by later this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is confident that it will pass the Senate and be on President Biden’s desk in time to be signed before the unemployment benefits from the last bill expire on March 14th…whether Republicans like it or not.
Original reporting by Andrew Solender at Forbes.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.