Senate

Cassidy: GOP’s COVID-19 relief proposal totals $600B, includes $1K payments

Greg Nash

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said on Sunday that the framework for a COVID-19 economic relief package unveiled by 10 Republican senators would cost $600 billion, less than half the price of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion proposal.

Cassidy said on “Fox News Sunday” that the pared-down GOP proposal unveiled earlier Sunday includes $1,000 direct payments to individuals that would be targeted to certain income levels. He did not specify if the GOP’s threshold would be those who made under $75,000 in the 2019 tax year. President Biden’s proposal includes a third round of direct payments of $1,400.

Funding for schools is also slashed in the GOP package, which Cassidy said offers $20 billion instead of Biden’s $170 billion. Cassidy noted previous COVID-19 relief proposals that funded schools and the notion that assisting public schools would help teachers unions that are skeptical of whether returning to in-person teaching is safe. 

Cassidy said one area of agreement is vaccinations, with the 10 GOP senators agreeing to match the White House’s $160 billion figure to distribute and administer shots.

Biden said Friday that he supports passing a COVID-19 relief package with Republican votes “if we can get it, but the COVID relief has to pass. There’s no if, ands of butts.”

Last week, Biden administration officials held a call with 16 senators — eight lawmakers from each party — about the White House’s COVID-19 relief package. The call was characterized as a “productive” conversation, but several Republicans have called Biden’s plan too expensive.

The $1.9 trillion plan by the White House also includes an extension of emergency unemployment benefits past mid-March. A proposal by the Biden administration to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour was met with pushback by Republicans who argue it would cost American jobs.

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