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Biden, two sources accustomed to the decision mentioned, was sounding out Collins, talking freely to her and leaving the Republican with the distinct impression that he was receptive to deal-cutting with the GOP.
However the name shortly turned south after White Home workers chimed in, with Collins and White Home financial adviser Brian Deese participating in an alternate about housing funding within the proposal — and the Senate Republican contending there was excellent cash but to be spent.
The top consequence: No deal, reaffirming Biden’s view that the Republican method was far too meager for the financial and public well being crises at hand.
However Republicans, nonetheless irked by the dearth of progress within the short-lived bipartisan talks, see a President who’s hamstrung by each White Home workers and Democrats in Congress whom they consider have far much less curiosity in working with the GOP and appear extra keen to advance their agenda with out regard for the minority celebration. Republicans’ argument: Biden appears keen to chop a deal however will not accomplish that due to stress from the individuals round him.
“He appeared extra keen than his workers to barter,” mentioned Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, who met with Biden and a bunch of GOP senators earlier this month.
Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell says that is the message that Republican senators who’ve negotiated with Biden have left with him as nicely.
“Our members who have been within the assembly felt that the President appeared extra fascinated about that than his workers did — or that it looks like the Democratic management within the Home and Senate are,” McConnell mentioned earlier this month.
White Home officers have pushed again on the notion that Biden’s aides are reining him in from pursuing a extra bipartisan method to Covid reduction, and the President himself advised Collins and different Republicans in the course of the Oval Workplace assembly their proposal was missing.
On Friday, Biden mentioned throughout a tour of a Pfizer facility in Michigan that whereas he is open to working with Republicans to make his invoice “cheaper,” he is not keen to compromise a lot on its content material.
“What would they’ve me minimize? What would they’ve me miss?” he requested forcefully.
A White Home official mentioned Biden has been “constant” in his personal conversations with lawmakers about the necessity to “go huge,” contending that whereas he is “open to frequent floor” with Republicans, “he believes that what the Republican group put ahead earlier this month is insufficient, and he has not wavered from that view in any of the negotiations round this invoice.”
Democrats transferring forward
Democrats say they’ve realized full nicely from errors of the previous, together with within the first 12 months of Barack Obama’s presidency, arguing that spending months negotiating with Republicans will in the end result in a coverage they consider is watered down. Plus slicing a take care of GOP senators would nearly actually badly divide Democrats, particularly within the Home, one thing that Democratic leaders in Congress are desirous to keep away from.
Then, the Senate is poised to take up the invoice with Democratic leaders signaling they’ll bypass Senate committees and take the measure on to the ground in an effort to jam the invoice via Congress by early March.
On Friday, Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer advised his Democratic colleagues that they have been “on observe” to move the $1.9 trillion invoice by March 14 when jobless advantages are set to run out.
“If Republicans are able to work with Democrats on constructive amendments that may enhance the invoice we’re able to work,” Schumer mentioned.
“Nevertheless, we should not permit Republican obstructionism to discourage us from our mission of delivering assist to Individuals who desperately want this reduction.”
Despite the fact that Republicans criticize Biden for going it alone, Democrats say the GOP has come nowhere close to the worth tag that is wanted.
Forward of their White Home assembly with Biden, Collins and 9 different Republicans had unveiled a $600 billion counterproposal to the President’s $1.9 trillion invoice, one thing Democrats instantly dismissed as inadequate.
The GOP plan had $160 billion for vaccinations, an extension of federal unemployment advantages, and included reduction checks that Republicans argued have been extra narrowly tailor-made to individuals with probably the most wants. It additionally prevented controversial concepts like elevating the minimal wage to $15, one thing strongly opposed by Republicans.
Republicans at the moment are warning that what may very well be Biden’s first main achievement will nearly actually come with none GOP backing.
“If it goes ahead with none adjustments from what was initially proposed, I might predict that not a single Republican will help the $1.9 trillion plan,” mentioned Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican.
Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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