Republicans Propose $618 Billion Covid-19 Relief Plan



WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans released new details of their roughly $618 billion coronavirus-relief proposal Monday, including a round of $1,000 direct checks per adult, ahead of a meeting later in the day with President Biden.

The GOP proposal, roughly one-third the size of Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan, would provide $300 a week in enhanced federal unemployment benefits through June, include $20 billion each for child care and schools, $50 billion for small-business relief and $160 billion for vaccines, testing and protective equipment, according to a summary of the proposal’s spending released Monday morning.

The group of 10 Republicans sent a letter to Mr. Biden on Sunday, requesting a meeting to try to find a bipartisan compromise as Democrats prepared to move forward this week with a process that would enable them to pass a larger relief package without GOP support. The White House said Sunday night that Mr. Biden would meet with the GOP group Monday evening.

“Mr. President, we recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the Covid crisis,” the group of senators led by

Sen. Susan Collins

(R., Maine) said Monday.

Republicans in their proposal omitted some of the most contentious measures in Mr. Biden’s proposal, including funding for state and local governments, and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

President Biden has signed two executive orders aimed at boosting pandemic aid, including increasing food assistance and enhancing worker protections. Photo: Ken Cedeno/Pool/Shutterstock

The GOP plan also proposes scaling back the $1,400 per person checks sought by Democrats to $1,000 per adult and $500 per dependent adult and child. The Republicans call for scaling back the size of the checks for individuals making $40,000 a year or more and phasing them out entirely when income reaches $50,000. Married couples with a joint annual income of $80,000 would see smaller checks, going to zero when income reaches $100,000. The plan didn’t specify the phaseout rules for households with children.

The Biden proposal didn’t specify the income levels at which the checks would start shrinking, and officials said they were open to discussions on that. But the starting points—$1,400 per person from the Democrats and $1,000 per adult and $500 per dependent from the Republicans—are quite different.

The proposals mean that a married couple with two children would receive up to $5,600 from the Democratic plan and $3,000 from the GOP alternative. The Republicans estimate their proposal for the checks as costing $220 billion, less than half the cost of the Democratic plan that the House passed in December.

Democrats have said they don’t want to omit important components of Mr. Biden’s proposal and that they risk undermining the recovery if they don’t invest enough to meet the needs of the health and economic crises.

“With the virus posing a grave threat to the country, and economic conditions grim for so many, the need for action is urgent, and the scale of what must be done is large,” White House press secretary

Jen Psaki

said in a statement Sunday night.

The Republican plan drops Mr. Biden’s proposal for an increase in the child tax credit. That plan would increase the $2,000 per child tax credit to $3,000 a year or $3,600 for children under 6. It would also make the full credit available to the lowest-income households. Democrats have called the proposal an important step toward reducing child poverty.

The GOP plan also offers a less generous extension of unemployment insurance. Instead of offering $400 a week through September with the potential for additional aid as economic conditions warrant, the Republicans propose $300 a week through June.

Sen. Pat Toomey

(R., Pa.) said Monday morning he hadn’t seen details of the GOP counteroffer, but thought further spending on top of the roughly $4 trillion Congress authorized last year was a bad idea.

“It looks to me like a whole lot more of what we just did,” Mr. Toomey said in an interview on CNBC, noting that Congress just passed a roughly $900 billion measure in December that included money for small businesses, additional jobless aid and stimulus checks. “Most of this money by the way hasn’t even really been spent yet,” he said. “I just don’t think there’s a good case for redoing this.”

Write to Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com and Richard Rubin at richard.rubin@wsj.com

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