White House begins talks with lawmakers on Covid relief

White House begins talks with lawmakers on COVID-19 relief
Source: AP
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: On Sunday, top aides to President Joe Biden began talks with a group of moderate Senate Democrats and Republicans on a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package as the president faces increasing headwinds in his effort to win bipartisan backing for the initial legislative effort of his presidency.

Lawmakers on the right question the wisdom of racking up bigger deficits while those on the left are urging Biden not to spend too much time on bipartisanship when the coronavirus pandemic is killing thousands of Americans each day and costing more jobs amid tightening Covid restrictions in many communities.

At least a dozen senators met for 75 minutes in a virtual call with White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese and other senior officials in the White House. Many hope to approve a Covid relief package before former President Trump’s senate impeachment trial, which is set to begin in two weeks, overtakes Washington’s attention.

Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, called the opening talks a “serious effort.”

King said: “There was not a hint of cynicism or lack of commitment to at least trying to work something out.”

The Senator told reporters that there was “absolute consensus” among the group that the No. 1 priority was to speed up the distribution of Covid vaccinations and expanding testing and tracing.

The White House did not seem to budge on breaking up the package or reducing the overall price tag, even as it pushes for bipartisan support.

Senator King said, there was also no discussion of pushing it through on a procedural move that could be done without Republicans.

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