Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine.
Al Drago for The Washington Post via Getty Images
- A GOP group sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Thursday citing unspent emergency COVID-19 relief funding.
- The letter said that the previously allocated funds should be spent before adding more through Biden’s stimulus plan.
- A budget resolution passed early Friday morning that allows Democrats to move forward with budget reconciliation.
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A group of Republican senators questioned the size of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion stimulus plan in a letter sent on Thursday, noting that there is still emergency COVID-19 funding to be spent.
On Monday, 1o Republican senators, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, met with Biden to discuss their counter-proposal to Biden’s stimulus plan. Their proposal totaled to $618 billion – a third of the cost of Biden’s – and while it included some elements of the president’s plan, like $160 billion for a direct COVID-19 response, it cut many other elements, like an increased minimum wage and assistance for renters.
In a letter sent to the president, the GOP group said that states have spent only $4.38 billion of the $68 billion provided to K-12 schools last year, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has only distributed $3 billion of the $8.75 billion appropriated for vaccine distribution.
“We have significant questions, therefore, about the size and scope of what is proposed in the American Rescue Plan given the amounts already appropriated by Congress and the more than $60 billion in emergency funding that remains unspent by states and school districts for K- 12 schools,” the letter said.
The senators said in the letter that they encourage Biden to distribute the remainder of the funding Congress has already allocated for pandemic relief purposes before providing more funding through his plan.
Lowering the threshold for stimulus payments was another issue addressed in the letter which Biden has already indicated he is willing to compromise on, but he will not agree to the $1,000 payments the Republican group proposed.
—President Biden (@POTUS) February 4, 2021
Early on Friday morning, the Senate passed a budget resolution that allows Democrats to move forward with budget reconciliation to pass Biden’s plan with no Republican votes.