(NEXSTAR) — The Biden administration has stopped gunning hopes for a fourth stimulus check, but indicated Thursday that the president is focusing on “getting people back to work” rather than short-term relief.
At a news conference Thursday, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether the proposed US Jobs and Families Plans would provide enough economic boost to make a fourth round of scrutiny unnecessary.
“He’s happy to hear a range of ideas about what would be most effective and what matters most to the economy going forward,” Psaki said. “But he has also suggested what he believes will be most effective in the short term in getting people back to work, getting through this critical period and also making us more competitive in the long run.”
The comments suggest little movement towards another round of payments in recent weeks. Last month, Psaki deferred a proposal for a fourth check to Congress, saying “those aren’t free.”
The White House has focused on building support for the president’s $1.7 trillion US jobs plan and a separate $1.8 trillion US family plan. those conversations remain unsuccessful.
Talks over Biden’s top legislative priority are moving slowly, a daunting undertaking given the massive investment in infrastructure, and the time for a deal is short. The government has set a June 7 deadline to see clear direction and signs of progress.
Privately, the president has deemed the GOP’s latest $928 billion counter-offer unworkable, largely because it uses unused COVID-19 funds. Instead, Biden wants to raise the corporate tax rate — a non-starter for Senate Republicans — to drive revenue for his $1.7 trillion package.
The ongoing talks may take on new significance after Democrats suffered a setback on Wednesday in their efforts to relay these and other Biden priorities on party-line votes. The Senate MP signaled new limits on how many times Democrats can use the budget-alignment process that allows a threshold of 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes normally needed to move legislation forward. In a four-page memo, the MP made it clear that this year Democrats probably only have one more chance to use the budget process, effectively closing the door to a multi-vote strategy.
Heading into the next round of meetings on Friday, Capito was expected to reiterate pressure from the GOP to once again use the coronavirus relief fund to pay for infrastructure investments, said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who killed West Senator Shelley Moore Capito. Virginia has commissioned the discussions.
“That’s the key to a bipartisan agreement,” McConnell said at a news conference in Kentucky. He said he especially wants to end unemployment aid that he believes is preventing Americans from returning to work.
“The coronavirus is behind us. We need to get back to work,” McConnell said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.