A bipartisan group of senators has come out with blistering criticism of the Biden administration’s proposed stimulus plan to address the pandemic, suggesting the White House is providing too much money “to high-income Americans.”
The bipartisan group of senators, led by Democrat Joe Manchin, set up a conference call on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 24, that also involved Jeff Zients, Biden’s CCP Virus policy coordinator, and Louisa Terrell, White House legislative affairs chief, the conservative Daily Wire reported.
It was apparently the first dialogue between the group and the Biden administration, in which strong opposition was raised against the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan put forward by Biden, which would largely target high-income earners.
The Biden administration proposed a package totaling $1.9 trillion, which includes a one-time payment of $1,400 for beneficiaries, an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and an extension of unemployment benefits until September.
A total of $20 billion was also proposed for improved vaccine distribution, an Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax and a credit extension and $350 billion in additional funding for state and local governments.
The criticism raised is not centered on the amounts allocated, but rather on the distribution of that money, since it implies a huge federal expenditure that may be totally wasted if the funds do not reach the hands that truly need them.
The senators reportedly expressed to White House officials their support for spending more on vaccine distribution, but rejected the stimulus payments, recommending that the White House better plan the stimulus distribution so that it actually reach those most in need.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), also pressed Biden officials, and demanded explanations as to why families with incomes of $300,000 would be eligible for federal aid, and urged a focus on low-income workers.
The meeting came after Biden said on Jan. 22, “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” Which stirred up a lot of controversy, especially given that a few days earlier when he was taking office he said that his administration’s work “starts with controlling COVID [CCP Virus].”
It is likely that Biden’s proposal will not pass the Senate because it would not meet the 60-vote threshold, unless the redistribution methods are significantly changed.
But, Democrats could circumvent the 60-vote threshold and pass the bill in the Senate by a simple majority by employing the “budget reconciliation” process and using Vice President Kamala Harris to break any ties. In fact White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that “we’re not taking any tools off the table.”