WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate will spend Thursday night sparring over the President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan.
Without a compromise in sight, Democrats are holding a vote to advance the plan without Republican support. In an effort to slow that process down, Republicans will offer hundreds of amendments to the package.
“We call it vote-a-rama,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, explained. “It likely could go through 3, 4, 5 (o’clock) in the morning.”
While Republicans are balking at the overall price tag, there are also specific provisions of the package with which they disagree, specifically a federal minimum wage increase, nontargeted relief checks, and billions for local and state governments.
“What our Iowa taxpayers don’t want to do is bailout just, for example, Illinois or Chicago,” Ernst said.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said that while he supports more direct stimulus payments, he’s not please that Democrats are pushing them through without Republicans.
“I’m really concerned about how they’re going about this,” he said. “If President Biden is serious about his rhetoric of unity and healing, he’ll reach across the aisle.”
But the White House argued the plan has broad bipartisan support — among citizens.
“Seventy-four percent of the public support it,” press secretary Jen Psaki said.
She said that the door remains open for negotiations, but the $600 billion plan Republicans offered up Monday doesn’t do enough.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has voted to take up the package as soon as her colleagues in the upper chamber pass it.
“We need to act now,” she said during a Thursday press conference. “It’s urgent and Americans cannot afford any further delay.”