Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and nine other Republican senators are proposing an alternative COVID-19 relief package, hoping to get bipartisan support.
"In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a COVID-19 relief framework that builds on prior COVID assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support," the senators wrote in a Sunday letter to President Joe Biden.
"Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support. We request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss our proposal in greater detail and how we can work together to meet the needs of the American people during this persistent pandemic."
While their plan will be released in more detail on Monday, the GOP senators' support continued focus on vaccine development and distribution, testing and tracking the virus, treatment and supplies, including more widely available personal protective equipment. It includes the $160 billion proposal by Biden to enhance the United States' capabilities and support health care workers dealing with COVID-19 on the front lines; as well as $4 billion to bolster behavioral health and substance abuse services.
It also includes economic relief "for those Americans with the greatest need," the letter states. The plan, however, provides "more targeted assistance than in the (Biden) administration's plan ... for families who need assistance the most."
Their plan would extend enhanced federal employment benefits and fully fund the president's request for nutrition assistance to help struggling families. It would provide additional resources for small businesses and child care, which the letter states "is a critical component to getting Americans back to work."
The Republican senators — including Romney, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Indiana Sen. Todd Young, Kansa Sen. Jerry Moran, South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis — argue that "billions of dollars" from the last $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, as well as CARES Act money allocated last March, has yet to be spent.
"The proposal we have outlined is mindful of these past efforts, while also acknowledging the priorities that need additional support right now," the letter to the president says.
"With your support, we believe Congress can once again craft a relief package that will provide meaningful, effective assistance to the American people and set us on a path to recovery."