Opinion | The Bipartisanship Trap

A group of Republican senators has offered up a meager Covid relief plan that is deeply unserious.

By Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

In his Inaugural Address, President Biden called for unity, for good faith debate and negotiation over real issues, for both sides of the political spectrum to come together as much as possible to tackle the nation’s challenges.

A group of Republicans say they want to play ball. But from the look of their proposal for Covid relief, it doesn’t look like they’re all that serious.

On Sunday, 10 Senate Republicans announced their interest in a bipartisan Covid relief bill with a letter to the White House: “In the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, we have developed a Covid-19 relief framework that builds on prior Covid assistance laws, all of which passed with bipartisan support. Our proposal reflects many of your stated priorities, and with your support, we believe that this plan could be approved quickly by Congress with bipartisan support.”

The letter goes on: “We recognize your calls for unity and want to work in good faith with your Administration to meet the health, economic, and societal challenges of the Covid crisis.”

On Monday, with this commitment in hand, these same Republicans released the details of their proposal before visiting the White House to discuss it with Biden. In exchange for their support, they would agree to a $618 billion Covid relief plan, less than one-third the size of Biden’s $1.9 trillion package.

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