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Brown Foresees Close Vote on Rescue Plan

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The COVID-19 relief plan proposed by Pres. Joe Biden will likely be voted on in the U.S. Senate on Friday or Saturday.
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A final vote is expected in the Senate in the next couple of days on the Biden Administration’s federal COVID relief bill. The latest negotiations have lowered the income eligibility for receiving a direct cash payment.

But Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) says the measure will still have significant impact.

SHERROD BROWN: There will be somewhat fewer people getting cash payments. The payments are $1,400, but there's also money for small business. There's money for pensions to fix the multi-employer pension plans. There is help to make sure people aren't evicted from their homes in the middle of a pandemic in the middle of the winter. This plan goes big in helping communities and people and in parts of our country that are especially hurting.

SARAH TAYLOR: As I understand it as well, tax credits that you've championed the Earned income Credit and the Child Tax Credit will be expanded in the bill?

SB: One of the most important things in this bill is we will cut the child poverty rate in half by making the child tax credit fully refundable, and by increasing the earned income tax credit for workers who don't have children and for older workers that are in the workforce in their 50s and 60s.

So this plan rewards the dignity of work. It makes sure that, as I said earlier, it puts shots in people’s arms. It puts people back to work. It puts money in people's pockets. It invests in our schools so schools could afford to reconfigure classrooms and buses and cafeterias, and our children can go back to school safely.

ST: Your Republican colleague Rob Portman has criticized the president about this bill, saying it includes too many things not related to COVID relief. He calls it bad policy and he says it was not approached in a bipartisan way. What's your reaction to that?

SB: When President Trump put a plan out, Democrats worked with him and came up with a bipartisan plan. It worked pretty well. When President Biden put out a plan, Republicans didn't make any real effort to negotiate in good faith. They came in with a plan that was something like a third or a quarter of the size.

This bill is bipartisan, when you look at the fact that 65% or 70% of the general public supports this plan. Republican senators don't. They're overwhelmingly against it. But Republican voters like this plan, Democrats, independent voters like this plan. Republican senators simply don't want to come to the table in any reasonable sort of way.

ST: Why do you think that is?

SB: Well, I think you saw Mitch McConnell back in 2010, said his number one goal was to make sure Barack Obama wasn't reelected. That seems to be the Republican playbook with a Democratic president. And I contrast that when Trump was President, Democrats came to the table. I was one of them. I helped to write, with (former Treasury) Secretary (Steven) Mnuchin, with former President Trump, we wrote a pretty good plan together. But Republicans simply haven't, they have acted the same way they did before. They don't seem much interested in this president succeeding.

ST: When is the vote likely to occur in the Senate?

SB: The vote likely will be Friday or Saturday. It will be a very close vote. There are a handful of Republicans who are considering voting yes, even though again 65% to 70% of the public supports this plan. They like the money in people's pockets. They like the vaccines in people’s arms. They like that we're investing in schools to reopen them, in jobs and unemployment benefits and help for small business. So there's overwhelming public support. I'm hopeful, the vote this Friday or Saturday, that Republican senators will actually reflect their states and vote for a plan that’s immensely popular around the country.