White House again holds the line on COVID-19 stimulus talks

White House press briefing
Posted at 1:05 PM, Feb 03, 2021

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday reiterated that the Biden administration does not plan to negotiate down from its $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus plan.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden met with Senate Republicans, who have proposed a slimmed-down version of the bill that would cost about $600 billion in taxpayer funds. Despite the meeting, Biden appears to have little interest in compromising on the cost of the bill.

Prior to taking questions, Psaki ran through a comparison of the Biden-proposed plan and the Republican proposed plan and noted what she viewed as deficiencies in funding for the Republican plan. She noted that teachers earning $60,000 a year would not be eligible for a stimulus check under the Republican plan and that the Republican plan did not provide as much employment — or, as she called it, "security" — for American families.

Psaki again on Wednesday stated that Biden sees more risk in passing a COVID-19 stimulus with too little funding as opposed to passing a bill that's too expensive.

Throughout the pandemic, Republicans have been reluctant to offer funding for state and local governments as part of COVID-19 stimulus packages. Psaki noted Wednesday that it could be a place for negotiations to start, and urged Republicans to submit proposals for local government funding.

Democrats appear poised to speed up the process of passing Biden's proposed bill through a process called Budget Reconciliation. Democratic Congressional leadership has indicated that it plans to move ahead with the bill even if it does not have support from Republicans.

Throughout his presidential campaign and into his inauguration, Biden has preached unity throughout the country and pledged to work on both sides of the aisle. However, Republicans have criticized Biden during the negotiation process for not considering conservative's viewpoints in passing more stimulus.

Psaki's briefing on Wednesday came a day after she faced criticism from conservatives regarding comments she made about Space Force. When asked about those comments and the criticism surrounding them, Psaki noted that the Biden administration is not planning to re-visit former President Donald Trump's decision to establish that branch of the military.

During Tuesday's briefing, Psaki had been asked about the Biden administration's plans for the branch. Psaki seemed to compare questions about Space Force to questions she had received in the past regarding the color scheme of Air Force 1.

“Wow. Space Force. It’s the plane of today,” Psaki responded, seemingly comparing the question to an earlier one about the color scheme of Air Force One. “It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see if we have any update on that.”

Finally, Psaki said that there was no change in plans regarding the U.S.'s involvement in the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The COVID-19 pandemic has put the games in jeopardy.