Republicans press Biden to downsize COVID-19 bill

Ten moderate Republican senators urged President Joe Biden to significantly downsize his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package on Sunday, floating a plan of their own amounting to roughly $600 billion as a bipartisan alternative to the Democratic president's plan.

In their letter to Biden, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Rob Portman and six other Republican senators asked Biden for a meeting, saying their counter proposal could be quickly passed with bipartisan support, promising more details on Monday.

Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to the president and former Louisiana representative, said on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday that Biden was open to meeting with Republicans but said he was not willing to accept a piecemeal approach.

RICHMOND: "Yes, he is very willing to meet with anyone to advance the agenda but, look, this is about seriousness of purpose. This is about meeting the moment. And this crisis is enormous and our response to it meets that challenge... and we're not going to leave anybody behind."

The 10 Republicans said their proposal sought more targeted assistance for families in need and additional funds for small businesses, offering stimulus checks starting at $1000 rather than the $1,400 checks Biden's plan includes.

But the GOP proposal echoes Biden's plan for more funding to boost vaccines and testing as well as support for schools and childcare centers.

The new relief legislation offers an early test of Biden's promise to work to bridge the partisan divide in Washington.

Democrats in Congress are preparing to push ahead with his plan this week and are seeking to make use of their control of the House and Senate to move quickly on the president's top goal of addressing the pandemic.

SCHUMER: "We must move forward on a Covid-19 relief bill."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said his chamber would begin work on it as early as this week.

With the Senate split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris wielding the tie-breaking vote, Democrats are considering using a parliamentary tool called "reconciliation" that would allow the chamber to approve Biden's relief package with a simple majority.

Video Transcript

- 10 moderate Republican senators urged President Joe Biden to significantly downsize his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package on Sunday, floating a plan of their own amounting to roughly $600 billion as a bipartisan alternative to the Democratic president's plan.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We have to act now.

- In a letter to Biden, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Rob Portman and six other Republican senators asked Biden for a meeting, saying their counter-proposal could be quickly passed with bipartisan support, promising more details on Monday.

CEDRIC RICHMOND: We face deep challenges.

- Cedric Richmond, a senior advisor to the president and former Louisiana representative, said on sebaceous CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday that Biden was open to meeting with Republicans, but said he was not willing to accept a piecemeal approach.

CEDRIC RICHMOND: Yes, he is very willing to meet with anyone to advance the agenda. But look, this is about seriousness of purpose. This is about meeting the moment. And this crisis is enormous and our response to it meets that challenge, and we're not going to leave anybody behind.

- The 10 Republicans said their proposal sought more targeted assistance for families in need, and additional funds for small businesses, offering stimulus checks starting at $1,000 rather than the $1,400 checks Biden's plan includes. But the GOP proposal echoes Biden's plan for more funding to boost vaccines and testing, as well as support for schools and child care centers. The new relief legislation offers an early test of Biden's promise to work to bridge the partisan divide in Washington. Democrats in Congress are preparing to push ahead with his plan in seeking to make use of their control of the House and Senate to move quickly on the president's top goal of addressing the pandemic.

CHUCK SCHUMER: We must move forward on a COVID-19 relief bill.

- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday that his chamber would begin work on it as early as this week, with the Senate split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris wielding the tie-breaking vote, Democrats are considering using a parliamentary tool called reconciliation that would allow the chamber to approve Biden's relief package with a simple majority.