Presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden endorsed another round of direct stimulus payments for millions of Americans — an item that doesn’t appear to be part of ongoing negotiations on Capitol Hill on the next round of COVID relief.
“I think it would be better if they had the $1,200,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday. “I understand that may be still in play.”
Mr. Biden endorsed a $908 billion compromise plan that’s being negotiated right now, though he said his preference would be the $3 trillion-plus package the House passed earlier this year.
“We need the Congress to act and act now,” he said, adding that more will need to be done early next year.
Mr. Biden said he’s envisioning another package with a price tag in the “hundreds of billions of dollars.”
He didn’t answer directly when asked if he’s spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell but expressed confidence that he’ll be able to strike deals with Republicans.
“We’ll be in dire trouble if we don’t get cooperation. I believe we will,” Mr. Biden said. “He knows me. He knows I’m as straight as an arrow when I negotiate. He knows I keep commitments and I never intend to embarrass the opposition.”
Rep. Tom Reed, a co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said earlier Friday that direct stimulus checks were off the table in the ongoing talks.
“We’re trying to narrow the scope, get the relief out there flowing,” said Mr. Reed, New York Republican. “That would take additional time to process those checks, et cetera — things like that. But also that opens up a whole new price tag.”
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