WH: GOP can have role, even as Dems push relief

The White House is insisting that Republicans have opportunities to influence the COVID relief bill, even as President Joe Biden joined Senate Democrats for a virtual lunch Tuesday to discuss his $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan. (Feb. 2)

Video Transcript

JEN PSAKI: At several points in this process, as we look to the weeks ahead, Republicans can engage and see their ideas adopted. At any point in the process, a bipartisan bill can pass on the floor. So just creating the option for reconciliation with a budget resolution does not foreclose other legislative options. This is my, when a bill becomes a law moment of the briefing today.

Second, Republican ideas can be adopted during the reconciliation negotiations, and is likely that several bipartisan ideas may be, or we are certainly hopeful of that. And third, Republicans have the ability to offer amendments both during the budget resolution and instruction phase of the process, and then later during the reconciliation phase. And in that way, can ensure their ideas are heard.

And I did all of that because I think it's important, there's been some misunderstanding about how this process works. And I think there was some view that the vote, the final vote was this week. You all know that's not the case. There is some time. That's why the president is engaging, why he did with Republicans last night, Democrats today, and why he's conveyed that he would like to continue doing that in the days ahead.

- Where right now is the greatest potential for compromise to try and achieve that bipartisanship?

JEN PSAKI: Well, you're right, Mary, that I think, and this was evident in the discussion last night, it was, as we said in our readout, and I think as Senator Collins also said, it was civil, it was constructive. This is how democracy should work. We should be engaging, Democrats and Republicans should be engaging with each other, but there certainly is a gap between where we are and where the proposal, the Republican proposal that was discussed last night was.

There are some bottom lines I think the president has, which he has conveyed in the meeting last night and reiterated to us this morning, which is, you know, to put it simply or accessibly for people, you know, he believes a married couple, let's say they're in Scranton just for the sake of argument. One is working as a nurse, the other is a teacher making $120,000 a year, should get a check. That's in his plan. In the plan presented by Republicans, they would not get a check.

And his view, is that at this point in our country, when one in seven American families don't have enough food to eat, we need to make sure people get the relief they need and are not left behind. As was also a part of our readout last night, there was a discussion, there's some technical follow-up where there's opportunity to discuss issues like small business, issues like COVID relief.

I'm not suggesting a reduction, I'm suggesting how to do it effectively. And those technical discussions at a staff level will be part of what's ongoing over the next couple of days. But his bottom, the president's bottom line is that this is a package. The risk here, as he has said many times, is not going too big, it is going too small. That continues to be his belief, and that's why he supports the efforts by Senator Schumer, Leader Schumer, and Speaker Pelosi to move this package forward.