Biden flexible on who gets aid, tells lawmakers to ‘go big’

Biden flexible on who gets aid, tells lawmakers to ‘go big’
President Joe Biden, and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., during a meeting to discuss a coronavirus relief package. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: President Joe Biden encouraged Democratic lawmakers to “act fast” on his $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid plan but also signaled he is open to changes, including limiting the proposed $1,400 direct payments to Americans with lower income levels, which could draw Republican support.

The US president told lawmakers in private comments on Wednesday that he is “not married” to an absolute number for the overall package but wants them to “go big” on pandemic relief and “restore the soul of the country.”

On a private call with House Democrats, Biden said: “Look, we got a lot of people hurting in our country today. We need to act. We need to act fast.”

On the direct payments, Biden said he does not want to budge from the $1,400 promised to Americans. But he said he is willing to “target” the aid package, which would mean lowering the income threshold to qualify.

Mr Biden said: “I’m not going to start my administration by breaking a promise to the American people.”

Biden spoke with House Democrats and followed with a meeting of top Democrats in the Senate at the White House, deepening his public engagement with lawmakers on his American Rescue Plan.

Together the coronavirus and economic aid is his first legislative priority and a test of the administration’s ability to work with Congress to deliver.

While Biden, a Democrat, is trying to build bipartisan support from Republicans, he is also prepared to rely on the Democratic majority in Congress to push the package into law. Democrats moved ahead with preliminary steps, including a House budget vote on Wednesday largely along party lines, to approve it on their own, over Republicans objections.

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