Ten Republican senators have come up with a $600 billion pandemic relief bill as a counter to Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said on Fox News Sunday that Biden should put up or shut up about “bipartisanship” and meet with the senators to negotiate a more targeted compromise bill.
Cassidy accused Biden of “abandoning true unity” for a “patina of unity” and said the president failed to reach out to his group of bipartisan senators.
“We’re targeted to the needs of the American people, treating our tax dollars as if they’re our tax dollars not just money to spend,” Cassidy told “Fox News Sunday.” “If you say you want bipartisanship … and then you have a budget reconciliation which is chock-full of payouts to Democratic constituency groups … you don’t want bipartisanship, you want the patina of bipartisanship.”
Cassidy claimed that Biden did not even try to work with his bipartisan group of senators.
“The President’s team did not reach out to anybody in our group, either Democrat or Republican when they fashioned their proposal,” Cassidy said. “So if you want unity, if you want bipartisanship, you ought to start with a group that’s shown it’s willing to work together for a common solution. They did not.”
The Senators sent Biden a letter asking for a meeting.
Cassidy said the senators’ proposal matches Biden’s $160 billion pledge to fund vaccinations and includes $20 billion “to get kids back to school.” Cassidy and his fellow Senate Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Todd Young of Indiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina sent Biden a letter on Sunday.
“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,” they wrote. “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 problem with Cassidy’s bill is that no one wants “bipartisanship,” least of all the president of the United States. Biden will agree to meet the Republicans, probably even listen to what they have to say — and then go before the cameras and declare the compromise bill is totally inadequate to meet this national emergency — the worst in history, he’ll say. And he’ll say it with a sad, regretful look on his face as if he were genuinely sorry to cut the legs from underneath the Republicans.
It’s all nonsense. Democrats will say there’s not enough for minorities and the oppressed while Republicans will claim it’s still too expensive. And then, still, with that regretful look on his face, Biden will get Democrats to pass his relief bill using reconciliation.
Senator Cassidy and any other senator that signed on to this compromise measure must be living on a different planet. “Unity” is a word that politicians drag out for state occasions like inaugural addresses and State of the Union speeches. In a political context, it has no meaning. For Biden, the meaning of “unity” is “unity on my terms.” And if you don’t like it, you can go hang.