President Joe Biden met with ten Republican senators at the White House on Monday to discuss a bipartisan coronavirus relief package.
“Thanks for coming down. I’m anxious for us to talk. See what we can do,” Biden told the group of senators at the top of the meeting on Monday evening.
The group of ten senators included Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bill Cassidy, Mitt Romney, Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito, Todd Young, Jerry Moran, and Thom Tillis. Sen. Mike Rounds participated in the meeting via phone.
The president and senators met in the Oval Office for about two hours.
“We have just had a very productive, cordial two-hour meeting,” Sen. Collins said to reporters after the meeting.
Collins said they discussed their proposed $618 billion coronavirus relief package and that Biden detailed his own $1.9 trillion plan, but they did not reach a deal.
“I wouldn’t say that we came together on a package tonight,” she said. “Nobody expected that in a two-hour meeting.”
The group of senators wore masks and were seated about six feet apart from President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“I feel like I’m back in the Senate ,which I liked the best of everything I did,” Biden said.
The difference between the group of ten Republicans and Biden’s proposed plans are stark.
The proposal backed by Republicans includes $618 billion in spending, while Biden’s proposal comes with a price tag of $1.9 trillion.
The Senate Republican plan supports $1,000 personal direct payment relief checks and includes stricter income caps for individual recipients, while Biden’s plan proposes $1,400 payments. Biden’s plan also features billions in bailout funds for state and local governments.
Collins thanked the president for hosting the Republicans for a meeting.
“I think it was an excellent meeting and we’re very appreciative that, as his first official meeting in the Oval Office, the president chose to spend so much with us in a frank and very useful discussion,” she said.
Collins said she was encouraged by the previous five bipartisan coronavirus relief packages in the previous administration and hoped for a sixth one, even though Democrats have control of all three branches of government.
“Let me just say that we have demonstrated in the last year that we can come together on a bipartisan package dealing with the COVID crisis,” she said.