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Hoping to Soothe Lawmakers, Powell Vows Economic Support: Live Updates

  • February 24, 2021
“More than 10 million fewer Americans are working today than when the pandemic began,” the business leaders wrote in their letter to Congress.
Credit…Harisson Weinstein for The New York Times

More than 150 corporate executives in New York — including a steadfast Trump supporter, Stephen A. Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group — have signed a letter urging Congress to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill over Republican objections.

The letter, released on Wednesday, calls on congressional leaders from both parties to “act swiftly and on a bipartisan basis” to enact the sweeping package, which Mr. Biden is pushing through Congress using a procedural loophole called reconciliation to bypass a possible Republican filibuster.

“Previous federal relief measures have been essential, but more must be done,” the executives wrote, bolstering the White House message that passing the measure quickly was justified by the magnitude of the crisis.

The business leaders represent a cross-section of prominent chief executives, including Sundar Pichai of Google, David M. Solomon of Goldman Sachs, Laurence D. Fink of BlackRock and Pat Gelsinger of Intel, as well as Mr. Schwartzman and another longtime friend of former President Donald J. Trump, the New York developer Richard S. LeFrak.

“More than 10 million fewer Americans are working today than when the pandemic began, small businesses across the country are facing bankruptcy, and schools are struggling to reopen,” the executives wrote in the letter, an effort organized by the Partnership for New York City, a business advocacy group.

“The target audience is Republicans,” said the partnership’s president, Kathryn S. Wylde, who said the loss of 500,000 jobs in the New York area during the pandemic spurred her to act. “This should be a bipartisan effort.”

The letter comes as opposition to the Biden package among Republicans in the Senate stiffened after the White House politely but emphatically rejected efforts, led by Senator Susan of Collins of Maine, to negotiate a much smaller compromise.

“We have indicated a willingness to come up from our $618 billion, but unfortunately the White House seems wedded to a figure that really can’t be justified,” Ms. Collins told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. “I would be surprised if there was support in the Republican caucus if the bill comes out at $1.9 trillion even if we’re able to make some beneficial changes.”

Mr. Biden’s proposal includes $1,400 stimulus checks for taxpayers making less than $75,000 a year, $400 billion for coronavirus vaccinations, an increase in unemployment benefits and hundreds of billions more in relief for local governments.

The House is expected to vote on the measure, which is expected to pass on a mostly party-line basis, on Friday or over the weekend, according to Democratic aides.

From there, it will head to the Senate, where Republicans will have an opportunity to add amendments. Democrats, who control an upper chamber deadlocked at 50-50 with the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Harris, cannot afford a single defection.

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