White House Engages Progressives on Aid Bill: Stimulus Update

The White House is engaging with progressives to ensure their input is heard as the administration works on Covid-19 relief. President Joe Biden warned that today’s kids face the danger of a lifetime of poorer earnings in calling for passage of his plan. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki emphasized that the need is to move quickly.

“This bill should be bipartisan,” Psaki said Friday, while adding that the key question is why GOP lawmakers haven’t endorsed Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal, given what she said are opinion polls showing 74% support for the plan. She said it’s up to Congress to determine the parliamentary procedure to use for the bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans for her chamber next week to take the first step toward proceeding with a Democrat-only relief bill, by considering a budget resolution. Republicans have voiced support for vaccine funding, but remain opposed to other elements of Biden’s proposal. Psaki reiterated Friday that the White House opposes breaking up the package.

White House Engages With Progressives on Stimulus Plan

The Biden administration is reaching out to progressive Democrats in an effort to include them in the effort to enact the next Covid-19 relief plan, even as public attention focused on moves to win some Republican backing.

Cedric Richmond, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, met Friday with progressive groups including MoveOn, Indivisible, People’s Action and Community Change, a person familiar with the matter said.

The president and White House officials also have had conversations with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and other liberal members of Congress.

“The size of the package is critical for us. It cannot be watered down below $1.9 trillion,” Washington State Representative Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the progressive caucus, said on a Thursday call with reporters. Jayapal said she and other progressives have had conversations with National Economic Council Director Brian Deese “about what our priorities are.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Biden is open to ideas from the left.

“Part of this process is that the president laid out his vision. He is getting feedback,” Psaki said during her daily press briefing. “A lot of the focus in here has been members who have said it’s too big, but some are saying it’s too small. And as a part of the discussion, we have those engagements and determine how to improve the bill.” -- Jennifer Epstein

Biden Says Kids Could See Weaker Lifetime Earnings (12:43 p.m.)

President Joe Biden said that failure to move quickly on his Covid-19 relief plan, enabling the reopening of the nation’s schools, could damage the next generation’s earnings potential.

“You could see an entire cohort of kids with a lower lifetime earnings because they’re deprived of another semester of school,” Biden said ahead of a White House meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the rest of his economic team Friday. “The choice couldn’t be clearer. We have learned from past crises: The risk is not doing too much, the risk is not doing enough.”

Yellen said Biden’s plan “will help millions of people make it to the other side of this pandemic.” The benefits of acting “big” on stimulus now “will far outweigh the cost in the long run,” she said. -- Jenny Leonard

White House Cites Urgency for Passing Covid-19 Relief (11:27 a.m.)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said it’s up to congressional leaders to decide on the procedures to use in advancing President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid proposal, but emphasized that it’s important to move swiftly.

Republican lawmakers on Thursday criticized moves by Democrats to fast-track Biden’s plan without their backing. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, part of a group of 16 senators seeking a bipartisan bill, said “it certainly isn’t helpful” to efforts at getting legislation supported by both sides of the aisle.

“A fair question you might ask our GOP or Republican colleagues is why they oppose proposals that have the support of 74% of the American public,” Psaki said at a press briefing Friday. “Even if this bill moves forward through the reconciliation process -- again, a parliamentary procedure -- it doesn’t mean they can’t vote for it.”

“His main bottom line is that we’re not going to break it apart and the three components to it are pivotal to moving it forward,” Psaki said of Biden.

House and Senate budget panels are preparing to move on fiscal 2021 budget resolutions next week -- the first step toward a so-called reconciliation bill, which allows the Senate to proceed on a simple-majority vote basis and avoiding the need for 60 votes to cut debate. Given the chamber’s partisan 50-50 split, most legislation would need at least 10 Republicans to move forward.

Not all of Biden’s plan is likely to qualify for that route as currently proposed. The $160 billion eyed for coronavirus vaccines and testing would likely need to be revised to fit the requirements of having a direct effect on the budget. The proposed minimum-wage hike may also be disqualified for having insufficient budget impact, though incoming Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders has argued that there’s a case for inclusion.

Stimulus checks and jobless benefits, two major components, would be in, while aid for state and local governments would face a high hurdle.

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