Sen. Thom Tillis among Republican senators to propose counter to Biden's COVID-19 relief plan

WASHINGTON (WTVD) -- Sen. Thom Tillis and nine other Republican senators are proposing an alternative $160B COVID-19 relief plan to President Joe Biden.

"President Biden took office calling for unity and bipartisanship, and I have made it clear that I am willing to work towards finding common ground on issues facing our country on behalf of the American people," said Senator Tillis. "As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, members on both sides of the aisle recognize additional targeted relief is needed to get families and businesses back on their feet. While relief from the recent $900 billion package continues to be distributed, this outline is a commonsense next step, and I hope President Biden and Congressional Democrats will review this proposal and work with us instead of ramming through a partisan relief package without Republican support."

In the letter to President Biden, the senators propose $160 billion to enhance COVID-19 vaccine development, testing, tracing, treatment and more. They said their plan mirrors Biden's request for $4 billion to improve behavioral health and substance abuse services.

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The proposal also includes economic impact payments for Americans, including dependent children and adults along with extending federal unemployment benefits and nutrition assistance for families. The senators' plan also includes small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

"Getting our children back to school and making sure that schools are able to stay open safely are priorities that we strongly support," the letter read. "Our plan includes resources for these purposes as well as for child care, which is a critical component to getting Americans back to work.

The 10 senators plan to unveil more of the proposed stimulus reduction details on Monday, Feb. 1. The group believes the plan can be passed with bipartisan support.

The White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to the proposal saying that $1,400 relief checks, substantial funding for reopening schools, aid to small businesses and hurting families, and more "is badly needed." And hopes that a bipartisan agreement can be reached between parties.

The full letter can be viewed here.

The Associated Press helped contribute to this report.
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