Washington (CNN)President Joe Biden is open to some negotiation on his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, a senior administration official told CNN, but the $600 billion counterproposal announced by some Republican senators Sunday is “not going to scratch the itch.
The White House is specifically open to considering scaling down stimulus checks for families making more than $150,000 per year, the official said, but the administration is not considering cutting off months of unemployment insurance access or money going to schools.
The official told CNN that if the Republican counterproposal moved forward, lawmakers would have to return to negotiating again in two months, which could happen in an even harsher political landscape. The official said that while the Biden administration is open to their relief package being smaller than $1.9 trillion, they’re not considering a $600 billion plan.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Sunday evening that Biden has invited the GOP senators behind the counterproposal to the White House, “for a full exchange of views.”
“With the virus posing a grave threat to the country, and economic conditions grim for so many, the need for action is urgent, and the scale of what must be done is large,” she said.
The Republican relief package represents the most significant response yet to the White House’s planned package, though with a price tag more than a trillion dollars less than the Democratic plan, the GOP proposal will likely face opposition from congressional Democrats.
The counterproposal includes a total of $160 billion for vaccine development and distribution, testing and tracing, and treatment and supplies, including the production and deployment of personal protective equipment. It also includes a new round of direct payments for “families who need assistance the most,” extends enhanced federal unemployment benefits at the current level and provides $4 billion to bolster behavioral health and substance abuse.
Coronavirus: Boy, 9, dies within 24 hours of positive test
FORT WORTH, Texas — A 9-year-old Texas boy known for his bear hugs died within 24 hours of testing positive for the coronavirus.
“He was just running around and playing earlier that day, and by the nighttime, he was yelling and crying to his mom that he couldn’t breathe. His mom went over, and his face was blue already and his lips were blue,” uncle Gabriel Ayala said.
J.J. Boatman was rushed to the emergency room where doctors performed life saving techniques to restore his breathing, WFAA reported. By Monday afternoon the decision was made to fly him to a children’s hospital, where he died on Tuesday. The doctor said he died from complications from the coronavirus. His lungs had filled with fluid, and his brain was swollen from lack of oxygen. His family did not know he was infected, as he had shown no symptoms.
“She didn’t know that she was going to come home empty-handed without her son. It’s just hard, of course. That was her baby boy. That was her only son,” Ayala said.
J.J. Boatman had celebrated his 9th birthday earlier in the month.
“I can’t imagine living without that boy here,” father Jason Boatman told WFAA. “He was just the life of this house.”
Jason Boatman said that he and his wife tested negative for the virus.
A crowd sourced funding account was set up to help pay for funeral costs.
“We’re going to miss his whole life. His life hadn’t even started,” Ayala said.
J.J. Boatman is the second child to be reported dead from the coronavirus in Tarrant County in as many days.
The Vernon Independent School District said Central Elementary School, which Boatman attended, would be closed until the end of the week. His last day on campus was Friday.
“We are heartbroken and our thoughts go out to the student’s family,” district superintendent Jeff Byrd said in a statement.