‘Back to square one – again’: Biden slams Republicans for opposition to bipartisan Covid bill

John T. Bennett
·2-min read
<p>Preparations for the inauguration by the United States Capitol Building are underway</p> (Yegor Aleyev/TASS)

Preparations for the inauguration by the United States Capitol Building are underway

(Yegor Aleyev/TASS)

President-elect Joe Biden slammed congressional Republicans for opposing a bipartisan Senate group’s $900bn coronavirus relief measure after hearing stories from people hit hard by the pandemic.

“It makes no sense,” Mr Biden said of Republicans’ opposition to providing more checks so people can have some income after losing their jobs during the pandemic.

“You should be able to get that money to be able to continue to grow,” he said of other federal aid for small businesses, which also is being held up by bipartisan bickering about the size and scope of any additional Covid-19 package.

The Democratic president-elect accused the opposition party of bring most interested in helping large companies.

“What our friends seem to be focusing most on is guaranteeing no liability for businesses, if anything happens” due to the respiratory disease, he said during an event with small business owners and employees – and former employees.

In a sobering moment, he told participants in the event the next 70 days will be “hard as hell.” That will include the first 20 days of his presidency.

He told them there is nothing he can do until he is sworn in on 20 January.

“Stay strong,” he told them as the virtual event was ending in an awkward moment.

The bipartisan group of moderate Republican and Democratic senators this week unveiled their $900bn proposal, which is smaller than a $1.6trn bill passed already by the Democratic-run House.

But it does not include another payment from Washington to families to help them pay their bills and buy food.

Top Capitol Hill Democrats on Tuesday endorsed that measure, but Republicans continued to hold out. They prefer a smaller bill – or doing nothing at all as their appetite for spending shrinks in the waning days of the sometimes-free spending Trump era.

Senate Majority Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that he prefers a smaller proposal based on his talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s designated Covid negotiator. But Democrats oppose that plan.

That led the president-elect to declare lawmakers are “back to square one – again.”

He reiterated that he intends to send the new Congress a sweeping coronavirus economic stimulus package once in office,. Anything lawmakers and Mr Trump do in the next few weeks would merely be a “down payment” on what the incoming president thinks is needed.

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