WASHINGTON (Reuters), 28 Jan, 2021- The White House on Thursday denied a media report that it could split President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal into two bills, as part of a strategy to get the divided Senate to quickly pass some aid for Americans.
Biden has made ramping up the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 430,000 people in the United States and left millions out of work, a major focus of his first week in office. But Republicans and some Democrats have balked at the cost of his proposal, which is on top of $4 trillion in aid approved by Congress last year.
With the Senate split 50-50, the misgivings have stirred speculation the White House could propose a two-pronged strategy, beginning with a bill small enough to garner enough Republican support to clear the Senate’s 60-vote threshold for most legislation.
Politico reported the administration was considering a bill that would provide $600 billion to $800 billion in aid, including scaled-back funding for vaccine distribution, unemployment and food assistance as well as relief checks targeted for those in need.
Democrats are also moving ahead with plans to use a parliamentary procedure called reconciliation, which would allow them to enact much of Biden’s proposal by a simple majority in the Senate - without Republican votes. Vice President Kamala Harris would break any tie vote in the Senate.