Republicans say the $1.9tn package is too costly
Joe Biden, the US president, faces a narrow window to clinch bipartisan support for his $1.9tn stimulus plan, after congressional Democrats said they wanted a deal before the impeachment trial against Donald Trump begins the week of February 8.
On Sunday, Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council in the White House, was due to host a meeting with 16 senators, including eight Republicans, to jump-start talks on Mr Biden’s relief package, which is the new president’s top early legislative priority.
Although Mr Biden has promised to make bipartisan unity a defining trait of his presidency, a number of Republicans have dismissed elements of his relief plan, criticising it for excessive spending and for including provisions such as an increase in the federal minimum wage.
Given that scepticism, Democrats want to quickly gauge Republicans’ appetite for serious negotiations on the stimulus package — which includes direct payments to individuals, aid to states and extra jobless benefits — or move on to try to pass it only with lawmakers of their own party.