Biden aides signal president is open to talks on COVID-19 relief

Aides to President Biden signaled on Sunday that the administration is open to meeting with Republicans who suggested their own framework for COVID-19-related economic relief even as some Democrats have called for the administration's plan to be pushed through Congress without needing GOP votes.

During interviews on the Sunday political talk shows, top Biden advisers, including National Economic Council Director Brian DeeseBrian DeeseConservatives slam ties between liberal groups, White House The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Congress returns; infrastructure takes center stage MOREsaid that the president was considering a letter from 10 Senate Republicans released Sunday that called for a meeting with the president to address priorities for a possible deal.

“We’ve received the letter, and will be reviewing it over the course of the day,” Deese said of the letter headed by Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate aims to pass anti-Asian hate crimes bill this week This week: Democrats move on DC statehood Trump looms over Senate's anti-Asian hate crimes battle MORE (R-Maine). Deese added, however,that Biden was "uncompromising" in his view that a bill should be passed sooner rather than later.

“We want to get cash in the hands of families and businesses that need it the most,” Deese added. “Certainly [we are] open to figuring out if we can make that entire package as effective as possible.”

While the letter released Sunday offered no numeric details of the GOP's framework, Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyBottom line Calls grow for national paid family leave amid pandemic Senators urge Energy chief to prioritize cybersecurity amid growing threats MORE (R-La.) told Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceCornyn defends controversial tweet as not about Biden's competency Sullivan: White House 'absolutely committed' to raising refugee cap McConnell seeks to end feud with Trump MORE on “Fox News Sunday” that the Republican proposal totaled $600 billion, more than half of the Biden administration's $1.9 trillion that included $1,400 direct payments to individuals.

Cassidy said the GOP measure would include $1,000 direct payments, but he did not specify an income threshold for recipients. The two previous rounds of checks included full amounts for people earning $75,000 or less in recent tax years.

On CNN's "State of the Union," Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP Rep. Steve Stivers plans to retire Kellyanne Conway joins Ohio Senate candidate's campaign OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds MORE (R-Ohio) indicated that the GOP plan would provide payments to individual Americans who are made $50,000 or less, telling host Dana BashDana BashBass 'hopeful' on passing police reform: 'Republicans that I am working with are operating in good faith' Waters: Fauci 'was being bullied' by Jordan during hearing Sullivan: 'There will be consequences' if Navalny dies MORE that the group "really want[s] to help those who need it the most." He added that aid should not go to many above that salary threshold because it doesn't stimulate the economy due to lack of individuals spending it.

While the letter sent by Republicans, which included Cassidy, recognized Biden's call for unity and pledged to "work in good faith" with the administration, the Louisiana Republican said they would slash funding for schools from Biden's $170 billion suggestion to $20 billion and joined others in the GOP who said Biden's proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour would cost American jobs. 

Cedric RichmondCedric RichmondJulia Letlow sworn in as House member after winning election to replace late husband Congressional Black Caucus members post selfie celebrating first WH visit in four years Black lawmakers press Biden on agenda at White House meeting MORE, a senior adviser to the president, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the president was willing to sit down with Republicans, but would not say if the president would consider one of the GOP group's key asks: targeting the direct stimulus payments to Americans earning $50,000 or less, adding only that "70 percent of Americans support President Biden’s plan."

“We want to make it safe for students, teachers, and families of students and teachers," Richmond said, adding that the funds allocated in the White House's $1.9 trillion framework were necessary to make it safe to reopen schools later in the spring.

Senate Democrats have suggested that they may be able to pass Biden's legislation regardless of GOP opposition if done so through budget reconciliation which only requires 51 votes in the Senate in order to avoid the 60-vote threshold. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Treasury creates hub to fight climate change through finance | Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' | Don't attack Zoom for its Bernie Sanders federal tax bill Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' MORE (I-Vt.), the top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that Democrats have the votes to pass the legislation as is through budget reconciliation measures, a tactic that would likely inflame tensions with centrist Republicans who have called on the newly-sworn-in Biden to restore bipartisanship in the chamber.

Sanders' comments suggests that Democrats believe they could avoid defections among members of their own party.

“Yes, I believe that we do [have the votes] because it's hard for me to imagine any Democrat, no matter what state he or she may come from, who doesn't understand the need to go forward right now in an aggressive way to protect the working families of this country,” Sanders said. "[A]t the end of the day, we're going to support the president of the United States, and we're going to come forward, and we're going to do what the American people overwhelmingly want us to do."