There is one show in town on Monday, and it is that meeting between 10 Republican senators and President Biden.
It’s a last-minute, last-ditch effort at bipartisanship coming just days before House and Senate Democrats were expected to move on the first step of their efforts to pass a coronavirus relief bill along party lines.
How we got here: As last week drew to a close and Democrats began publicly charting their timeline for reconciliation, a group of moderate Republican senators was watching with frustration. They thought this was going to go differently. They thought there would be more time to negotiate, and most of all, they were uncomfortable with the fact that they, too, thought the country needed Covid-19 relief and they were about to be forced to choose between everything Democrats wanted or absolutely nothing.
That’s when a group of Senate Republicans and aides came up with the idea they needed to offer an alternative not just as an opening volley to the Biden administration but as a blueprint for the country on the type of plan Republicans stood for.
The plan began taking shape Friday. On Sunday 10 Republican senators announced plans to unveil a roughly $600 billion Covid-19 relief package, a counterproposal to Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan meant to force relief talks with the White House back to the middle.
They’re expected to unveil details of their plan today.
The bottom line: The chances that President Joe Biden’s meeting with 10 Republican senators changes the final trajectory of Biden’s first big legislative push are slim.
But the effort underscores the tension Biden is facing between the Washington he once knew as a US senator and the one he is returning to as President. Biden is taking the meeting, and in many ways, there is no other choice for a President who built his campaign on uniting the country and compromise.
Biden’s team – and Biden himself – have made it clear that they can be flexible in some places, but the roughly $600 billion Republican plan is a drop in the bucket compared to where they want to go. Add on top of that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s dismissive comments on Sunday and it’s clear that a lot would have to change over the next 24 hours to make this Republican plan an actual game changer.