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Capito: Biden Seems Unwilling To Budge on Relief Checks

Republicans Seeking to Trim Spending Bill

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., walk together on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is unlikely to move away from a $1,400 relief check to individual taxpayers as part of the COVID-19 economic stimulus package, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said Tuesday.

Biden has been vocal on the amount to help people impacted by the economic slowdown caused by the virus. Capito, R-W.Va., was among the 10 Republicans who met with the president on Monday to discuss the latest stimulus package.

“He’s very compelled to follow through with what he’s said,” Capito said.

The Republicans put forth a $619 billion proposal compared to the $1.9 trillion from Biden and the Democrats.

The Republican offer would provide relief of $1,000 to residents earning $50,000 or less, $100,000 or less for couples, no aid for state and local governments and extended unemployment benefits at $300 a week through June. The president’s plan includes $1,400 for taxpayers, an increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour, aid for state and local government and extended unemployment benefits of $400 a week through September.

Where there is agreement is COVID-19 response, Capito said. Increasing the minimum wage should be separate from COVID relief, she said.

“I think the minimum wage is a good thing to be debated,” Capito said.

The Republican plan also proposes less money for schools and for state and local governments. The Democrat plan overestimates what is needed for schools, Capito said, and doesn’t consider the average revenue loss for states is 0.1 percent, some more and some less.

The president at the meeting cited the comments by Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia, who before the meeting on Monday said the plan spending the most money would be better.

“What governor wouldn’t want it to be as big as possible,” Capito said.

Where the president may be willing to compromise is the income limits on those who will receive relief checks, Capito said. Biden appeared willing to consider limiting relief checks to lower wage levels, the people who will spend rather than save or invest the money, she said.

“You want to get that money into the general economy,” she said.

Capito said she remains hopeful a bipartisan agreement can be reached on the stimulus plan. However, it also depends on where the Democratic leadership would be willing to compromise.

“That I don’t know,” Capito said.

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