- The Washington Times - Monday, January 25, 2021

President Biden said Monday he doesn’t want to pick and choose individual items to prioritize in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal, saying that everything in it adds up to a cohesive package.

“Time is of the essence,” Mr. Biden told reporters at a White House event. “I must tell you I’m reluctant to cherry-pick and take out one or two items here and then have to go through it again.”

“They go sort of hand in glove, each of these issues,” he said.

The package includes about $1 trillion in direct aid to individuals, $350 billion for states and localities, and about $400 billion for virus-related efforts like vaccine distribution.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Monday that the overall package misses the mark.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have raised concerns, notably that wealthier households are still eligible to receive partial direct payments.

Republicans also say that struggling small businesses can’t afford a hike in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Mr. Biden said he expects there will be some give and take and that it’s still early in the negotiating process.

He said it’s up to congressional Democrats as to whether they want to use a fast-track budget tool that could short-circuit a possible filibuster in the Senate.

The president said there can still be “unity” in the process even if Democrats end up muscling something through without GOP support.

“If you pass a piece of legislation that breaks down on party lines but it gets passed, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t unity — it just means it wasn’t bipartisan,” he said. “I prefer these things to be bipartisan because I’m trying to generate some consensus and take sort of the vitriol out of all of this.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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