'Nonstarter': Joe Biden's $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Plan Opposed by Senate Republicans

Senate Republican opposition to President Joe Biden's new $1.9 trillion stimulus plan has escalated since Inauguration Day, with some indicating that the Democratic leader has not yet attempted to reach out to negotiate a bipartisan deal.

On January 14, Biden unveiled a sweeping relief proposal that includes a third stimulus check of $1,400, $160 billion in additional funding for an aggressive national vaccination program, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and increasing federal unemployment payments from $300 a week to $400.

"I suspect the whole package is a nonstarter, but it's got plenty of starters in it. And a lot of them are things that we proposed in terms of more assistance to the states," said Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, according to the Washington Post. "There's some things in there that aren't going to happen. There's some things that can happen. And that's how this process should work."

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris White House
President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan faces increasing opposition by Senate Republicans. Here he speaks at the White House on January 22. Alex Wong/Getty

Earlier this week, moderate Republicans indicated that it may be too soon to pass another large stimulus package. "We just passed a program with over $900 billion in it," Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said. "I'm not looking for a new program in the immediate future."

Senator Susan Collins of Maine said, "We just passed $900 billion worth of assistance; why we would have a package that big now? Maybe a couple of months from now the needs will be evident and we will need to do something significant. But I'm not seeing it right now."

"The ink is just barely dry on the $900 billion, and what the president is proposing is significant—$1.9 trillion. It's going to require, I think, a fair amount of debate and consideration," Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska added.

With mounting GOP opposition, Biden's handling of this first major piece of legislation will test his campaign promise of unity in the aftermath of Donald Trump's divisive presidency.

Some Democrats have urged the president to skip attempts at striking a bipartisan deal and circumvent the possibility of months of stalled negotiations by pushing through the legislation without Republican support.

"It's important that Democrats deliver for America. If the best path to that is to do it in a way that can bring Republicans along, I'm all in favor of that," Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said. "But if Republicans want to cut back to the point that we're not delivering what needs to be done, then we need to be prepared to fight them. Our job is to deliver for the American people."

Democrats have retained slim control of the House and secured a 50-50 split in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the deciding vote. If Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can ensure that every Democrat in the upper chamber votes for the package, the party will not need any Republicans to pass the measure.

Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio has encouraged Biden to get "bipartisanship at the start" to ensure "a foundation of trust," but he says the president has neglected to reach out to most GOP lawmakers since releasing his plan.

"I have not personally [heard from the White House], and I'm disappointed in that, not about me but about, you know, it's one thing to talk about outreach, another thing to do it," he said, according to the Post.

The Biden administration is expected to brief Republican senators on stimulus by the end of the weekend.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

Correction 01/24/21 4:17 p.m. ET: A previous version of this story mistakenly stated that Biden's new stimulus proposal includes increasing federal unemployment payments from $300 a month to $400, rather than $300 a week to $400. We regret the error.