President-elect Joe Biden on Friday twice dodged reporters’ questions about whether he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about COVID-19 stimulus legislation.
Biden said at a press conference in Delaware, however, that he wanted to support a compromise as the pandemic and its economic effects worsen with rising infections.
“It’s not going to satisfy everybody, but the option is, if you insist on everything, we’re likely to get nothing,” Biden said.
A spokesman for McConnell (R-Ky.) told The Post they had “nothing to announce” about whether he and Biden spoke.
Interactions between Senate Republicans and Biden are touchy because President Trump says he won the election, though he’s been unsuccessful so far in legal challenges in swing states. Trump must sign legislation that passes before Jan. 20.
Stimulus legislation is expected to be attached to a government funding package that must pass by Dec. 11 to prevent a partial government shutdown.
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For months, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spurned McConnell’s efforts to pass a less-than-comprehensive package and then hash out more contentious provisions.
This week, Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) endorsed a $908 billion bipartisan proposal that would partially revive at $300 per week a federal unemployment supplement and add $288 billion in new small-business Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans.
The bipartisan plan also calls for $45 billion for airlines and struggling mass-transit systems, $160 billion for state and local governments and $16 billion for COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution.
Many elements of the bipartisan proposal already were contained in a $1 trillion Republican framework unveiled in July, though it does not contain McConnell’s demand for liability protection for businesses except in cases of gross negligence and misconduct, which most Democrats reject as potentially allowing firms to recklessly endanger people’s health.
Biden told reporters he’d like the next round of stimulus to include $1,200 direct checks — something that was not put on the table by the bipartisan plan. The idea has broad support in both parties.
“I think it would be better if they had the $1,200,” he said.