Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is leading a coalition of nine other Republicans that are calling for a COVID relief compromise with the White House. The group penned a letter to President Joe Biden, asking for a meeting to discuss how to move forward, because they believe their bill could receive bipartisan support in both chambers.
Their proposal includes $160 billion for vaccine development and distribution, as well as $4 billion for behavioral health and substance abuse services.
The White House has said they support $1,400 per person direct cash payments across the board. The coalition, however, says they believe their plan provides a "more targeted" approach for the families more in need. According to Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the thresholds for receiving assistance would be lowered to individuals making $50,000 or $100,000 for couples. Under the GOP proposal, checks would be $1,000 per person, the Washington Post reported.
The Republicans, however, say their proposal extends the current rate of enhanced federal unemployment benefits and provides funding for families in need of "nutrition assistance."
Another area the coalition says they have addressed in their proposal is funding for schools to reopen and parents to receive childcare. Their plan also includes additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans as well as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
All of the funding from this proposal, they say, takes into account the second stimulus' price tag.
"Finally, we note that billions of dollars remain unspent from the previous COVID relief packages," the letter states. "Just last month, Congress provided $900 billion in additional resources, and communities are only now receiving much of that assistance. Some of the spending appropriated through the CARES Act, passed last March, also has yet to be exhausted. The proposal we have outlined is mindful of these past efforts, while also acknowledging the priorities that need additional support right now."
The senators joining Murkowski include Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Bill Cassidy (LA), Jerry Moran (KS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Mike Rounds (SD), Thom Tillis (NC) and Todd Young (IN).
Below is the full letter to the president:
I joined a group of 10 Republican Senators in writing to President Biden today to propose an alternative Covid-19 relief bill capable of garnering bipartisan support and to request a meeting to discuss it in detail.https://t.co/aenxAwE65K pic.twitter.com/dHIp4YU4yu— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) January 31, 2021