The current COVID-19 relief bill is an “emergency measure” that is “definitely” in need of Republican support, according to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.
“The December version, which came down to $900 billion, had 92 votes in support of it, and now we’re looking around for Republicans who will step up for the next bipartisan effort,” the Illinois Republican said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We definitely need them, and we certainly need the relief going to the American people.”
The bill, tallied at $1.9 billion, contains “more money for vaccines, for distribution, cash payments of $1,400 for many Americans desperately in need of it,” said Durbin. It also makes sure that unemployment benefits won’t run out, and provides money for rental assistance, he added.
“We need the same level of bipartisan support we gave during the Trump administration,” Durbin said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has expressed concerns about including a $15 minimum wage hike in the bill, and Durbin said that one senator’s vote “makes a difference in a 50/50 Senate.”
However, Durbin said he does not want to suggest Manchin has decided to vote against the bill, as he has not made that announcement but is “thinking a bit long and hard” on the matter.
Durbin also commented on the continuing confirmation hearings for attorney general nominee Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice, saying the staff and professionals there “have been demoralized” by the last four years under the Trump administration, particularly during the president’s contentions on the election.
“Merrick Garland is not only a breath of fresh air, but he is integrity and honesty,” said Durbin, adding that he believes a number of senators on both sides of the aisle are prepared to vote for him.
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