Joe Biden-GOP Stimulus Talks 'Productive,' but Democrats Press Urgency of COVID Relief

Democrats continue to push for urgency on COVID-19 relief after a meeting between President Joe Biden and 10 Republican senators was branded productive by both sides.

Biden met with the GOP lawmakers on Monday to discuss a framework which they believe would muster bipartisan support, which would include cutting several aspects of Biden's proposals. They pitched a scaled-back proposal for a relief package—a $618 billion bill that is roughly one-third the size of what the president has put on the table.

A statement from the group after these talks said: "It was an excellent meeting, and we are very appreciative that in his first official meeting in the Oval Office, President Biden chose to spend so much time with us discussing the response to the COVID crisis. We presented our proposal to the President, and we had a very productive exchange of views.

"On five previous occasions, Congress has demonstrated that we can come together to deliver Covid-19 relief for the American people."

The statement, released through the office of Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), said talks would continue in the coming days.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki released a statement following the talks, stating the president and Vice President Kamala Harris had a "substantive and productive discussion with Republican senators."

However, the statement also highlighted the president's desire to respond "boldly and urgently" to the crisis at hand, detailing his position that the Republicans' proposal does not address all the areas he deems necessary.

"While there were areas of agreement, the President also reiterated his view that Congress must respond boldly and urgently, and noted many areas which the Republican senators' proposal does not address," the statement said.

"He reiterated that while he is hopeful that the Rescue Plan can pass with bipartisan support, a reconciliation package is a path to achieve that end. The President also made clear that the American Rescue Plan was carefully designed to meet the stakes of this moment, and any changes in it cannot leave the nation short of its pressing needs."

The statement concluded that Biden "will not slow down work on this urgent crisis response, and will not settle for a package that fails to meet the moment."

While these talks look to pursue a bipartisan agreement, Democratic lawmakers continue to pursue means to push through Biden's $1.9 trillion plan without Republican support.

A method touted has been reconciliation and a budget resolution was introduced on Monday.

Commenting on this, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in a statement: "Bold action is needed now, and while reconciliation does not preclude a bipartisan package, it does ensure Congress can meet the needs of the American people whether Republicans want to help or not. We will act expeditiously, using whatever parliamentary procedures necessary, to save lives and our economy."

A statement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that "the time for action is now."

"With this budget resolution, the Democratic Congress is paving the way for the landmark Biden-Harris coronavirus package that will crush the virus and deliver real relief to families and communities in need," their joint statement said.

"We are hopeful that Republicans will work in a bipartisan manner to support assistance for their communities, but the American people cannot afford any more delays and the Congress must act to prevent more needless suffering."

Democrats have previously indicated they are willing to keep all options open to pass Biden's plan, outlining that while they would like bipartisan agreement they hope to move forward regardless.

Newsweek has contacted the White House and the lawmakers mentioned by name for comment.

joe biden and susan collins
President Joe Biden (L) and Vice President Kamala Harris (out of frame) meet with Republican Senators, led by Senator Susan Collins (R) (R-ME), to discuss a coronavirus relief plan at the Oval office of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 1, 2021. Both sides branded the talks productive. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images