President Joe Biden was expected to meet Monday afternoon with a group of 10 Republican senators.
Those senators are urging him to consider a COVID stimulus package approximately a third of the size of the one he and Democratic leaders have been pushing. The result of the meeting could serve as an early test of the new president's priorities.
Prior to his inauguration nearly two weeks ago, Biden promised an aggressive and comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic and said it was his highest priority. But he also promised to work across the aisle toward bipartisan compromise, and now a group of ten GOP senators -- Oklahoma Sens. Inhofe and Lankford are not part of the group -- is aiming to hold the president to his word.
"We hope we finally start getting that bipartisan ... and with the White House negotiation," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana. "So far, we've not received it."
Biden first unveiled his so-called American Rescue Plan a week before his inauguration and said it is critically important for the nation.
"We not only have an economic imperative to act now, we have a moral obligation," Biden said.
Both the White House's plan and senators' plan include $160 billion to expedite and expand the distribution of vaccines, COVID testing and PPE.
Both plans also include additional stimulus checks, but it's $1,400 in the Biden plan versus $1,000 in the GOP plan. Republicans also want to make the stimulus checks available to fewer Americans by tightening the income restrictions.
Unemployment benefits would be extended beyond March in both proposals, but less generously in the Republican proposal. The American Rescue Plan calls for increase the federal supplemental benefit to $400 and extend it through September; the GOP plan would extend a $300 weekly payment through the end of June.
The president and Democrats include additional aid for state and local governments in their plan as well as, an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Republican plan includes neither.
The price tag of the president's plan has been put at $1.9 trillion; the GOP plan comes in at about $618 billion. Republicans said the president's plan is too big but he disagrees.
"The risk is not that it is too big," said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. "The risk is that it is too small and that remains his view and one he'll certainly express today."
With control of the House, Senate, and the White House, Biden and the Democrats could pass most of this without any Republican buy-in. Monday afternoon's meeting could go a long way toward determining if they will.