Republicans Attack Joe Biden Stimulus Plan, Laying Ground for Congressional Battle

Republicans lined up to attack President-elect Joe Biden's stimulus plan on Thursday after he revealed that it would provide a third round of direct payments, and an increase to the federal minimum wage.

GOP lawmakers from various factions of the party made several complaints about the plan, ranging from concerns about the impact a higher minimum wage could have on small businesses, to the size of the proposed bailout fund.

The criticisms set the stage for a potential battle to pass the measures through Congress, and particularly the Senate, which the Democrats now control with a narrow tiebreaker vote majority thanks to victories in the Georgia Senate runoff elections.

Under the proposals unveiled by Biden in a Delaware speech last night, Americans could receive an additional $1,400 stimulus check to top-up the $600 checks passed out by the Congress in December, and benefit from the federal minimum wage being upped to $15 an hour.

President-elect Joe Biden stimulus speech
President-elect Joe Biden lays out his plan for combating the coronavirus and jump-starting the nation’s economy on January 14, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Another raft of bailout funds for state and local governments, as well as $400 billion in funding for the national COVID-19 vaccine program and other critical pandemic efforts, have also been included in the plan.

Reacting to the president-elect's proposals, Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) tweeted: "If you actually wanted to create more jobs during this pandemic, then why would you impose a costly $15 minimum wage on small businesses? This is just another example of progressives trying to pass their liberal agenda under the guise of COVID relief."

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) also told The Washington Post in a statement that the jobless and "Main Street" Americans would be "shaking their heads" at the president-elect's proposals.

Congresswoman Lisa McClain of Michigan (R) said states could prevent the need for further stimulus by lifting "draconian" lockdown measures. "We need more jobs, not more government bailouts," she said.

"Biden claims there is a 'moral obligation' to pass his $1.9 trillion spending plan," Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) tweeted with an eye-roll emoji. "If you object to the package you are clearly immoral."

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John Cornyn (R-TX) also seemed to raise complaints about the package, with Cornyn noting that the upper chamber had passed a $900 billion relief package a little more than two weeks ago.

"President-elect Biden served in the Senate for over 35 years. So he knows the plan he outlined tonight can't pass 'quickly' & will delay the 2k for hard hit Americans," Sen. Rubio tweeted. "Let's get the extra money to people first."

Newsweek has contacted the Biden transition team for comment. This article will be updated with any response.

Speaking about his stimulus plans last night, Biden argued that there was "real pain" overwhelming the "real economy," as Wall Street and investors fared reasonably well despite the ongoing pandemic.

He also defended the proposals as necessary spending to both provide much-needed relief and support to the American people in the short term, while shoring up the nation's finances in the long term.

"The return on these investments in jobs, racial equity, will prevent long-term economic damage," the president-elect said. "And the benefits will far surpass the cost."