Biden says he’s open to making his $1.9 trillion aid plan ‘cheaper’

Biden says he’s open to making his $1.9 trillion aid plan ‘cheaper’

President Joe Biden on Friday suggested he was willing to make cuts to his big COVID-19 relief plan, with his remarks coming as the Democratic-run House and Senate work toward enacting it without any Republican support.

“I’m grateful that the Senate and the House are moving quickly, and I’m prepared to hear their ideas on how to make the package better and make it cheaper. I’m open to that,” Biden said in a speech at a plant producing one of the COVID vaccines.

But the president also signaled some resistance to reductions.

“Now critics say my plan is too big — that it costs $1.9 trillion, that’s too much,” he said. “Let me ask them, ‘What would they have me cut? What would they have me leave out? Should we not invest $20 billion to vaccinate the nation?’”

The House Budget Committee is scheduled to take up the legislation for Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” on Monday, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, on Friday promised that Congress would pass the relief bill before March 14, when key unemployment insurance benefits would run out.

Related: Surprise provision in $1.9 trillion Democratic aid plan shows ‘pharmaceutical sector faces risk,’ analysts say

Biden made his remarks during a visit to a Pfizer

plant in the swing state of Michigan that is producing the drug maker’s COVID vaccine. The manufacturing facility sits in Portage, a small city in the state’s southwest corner just south of Kalamazoo.

Pfizer’s stock closed 0.4% lower Friday and is up 0.4% over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 index was down 0.2% for the session and is higher by 15% over 12 months.

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