Senate

GOP senator calls Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan a ‘non-starter’

Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (Mo.) on Thursday said President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which includes increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, is a “non-starter.” 

“I suspect the whole package is a non-starter,” Blunt told reporters, though he acknowledged there are elements of it that can secure bipartisan support. 

“But it’s got plenty of starters in it, and a lot of them are things that we proposed in terms of more assistance to the states. I think we’re ready to look at what it takes to move forward as effectively and quickly as we can on vaccine distribution, on securing what we need for the future in terms of [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” Blunt added.

“There are some things in there that aren’t going to happen and there are some things that can happen,” he added.

One of the biggest sticking points is Biden’s proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Other red flags for Republicans are expanding paid leave for workers and providing $350 billion to state and local governments.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), an influential centrist, said Thursday that Congress should wait before passing another major relief bill, noting former President Trump signed a $900 billion rescue package at the end of last year.

“I feel that the announcement of a new $1.8 trillion [sic] stimulus package is not well-timed. We just passed a $900 billion-plus package. Let’s give that some time to be able to influence the economy,” he said. “We of course had on a bipartisan basis developed what we thought were effective ways of helping the people that needed the help most.

Romney said Biden’s proposal is “going to find a less receptive audience among my colleagues.” 

“I certainly know that for myself,” he added. 

Republicans are already critical of Biden’s proposal to raise the minimum wage.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) on Tuesday pressed Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick to head the Treasury Department, on how increasing the minimum wage would impact small businesses.

“I asked @JanetYellen how raising the minimum wage to $15 affects the millions of #smallbiz on the brink of closing. Her answer was disappointing & didn’t mention the 3.7 million jobs the @USCBO estimates will be lost. I’ll fight to protect businesses from these damaging policies,” Scott tweeted, referring to the Congressional Budget Office.

Biden’s plan would more than double the current federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25. 

Tags biden administration Biden stimulus Coronavirus relief package Donald Trump Janet Yellen Joe Biden Mitt Romney Roy Blunt State aid Tim Scott vaccine distribution

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