“There is obviously a big gap between 600 billion and $1.9 trillion. I don’t believe any of us are mathematicians, but clearly the amount needs to be closer to what he proposed than smaller,” Psaki said during Monday’s press briefing.
When asked if it was more important for the bill to be big or bipartisan, Psaki said Biden believes he can have both.
“Well, I think the President believes we can, and there is a historic evidence that it is possible to take a number of paths, including through reconciliation, if that is the path that’s pursued, and for the vote to be bipartisan,” Psaki said. “But it’s important to him that he hears this group out on their concerns, on their ideas.”
Psaki said the meeting is an example of Biden’s willingness to be bipartisan and will be an opportunity to have an exchange of ideas, but it will not be a forum for the President to make or accept an offer.
“He felt it was, you know, an effort to engage and engage on a bipartisan basis, and that’s why he invited them to the White House today,” Psaki said.
She added that Biden will engage with Democrats in the Oval Office as well and emphasized the need to move ahead.
“It’s incredibly urgent,” Psaki said, citing access to unemployment insurance, food insecurity, and the need for funding for vaccine distributions and public schools.
The administration is facing a crucial test this week. In addition to the President’s meeting, Democrats are beginning the reconciliation process to potentially pass legislation on their own, which could potentially poison the well for a bipartisan deal.