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Biden presses for ‘big’ stimulus in meeting with CEOs

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US President Joe Biden sits alongside US Vice President Kamala Harris (2nd L) and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (R) as he holds a meeting with business leaders about a Covid relief bill./AFP
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Feb 10, 2021 - 02:27 AM

NEW YORK — President Joe Biden met Tuesday with a handful of top CEOs, hammering home the need to “move big” on his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill while receiving input on a proposal to raise the minimum wage.

“We’re approaching this issue to see if we can find some common ground,” Biden said ahead of a White House meeting.

Biden said he was “optimistic” bipartisan compromise was possible before the gathering that included Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon and JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.

Other attendees included Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the chief executives from clothing chain Gap and hardware and lumber chain Lowe’s.

Biden’s plan includes additional stimulus payments to households, new aid for restaurants and other small businesses, expanded unemployment benefits and additional funds for vaccine distribution.

So far, congressional Republicans have criticized the plan as too costly and particularly scorned proposals to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour from $7.25 and provide $350 billion in funds for state and local governments.

The Chamber of Commerce, which was represented at the White House gathering by outgoing Chief Executive Tom Donohue, has called for a bipartisan pandemic relief package, warning that a Democratic-only proposal could risk progress on other priorities, such as infrastructure spending and climate change.

The Business Roundtable has endorsed a “significant” package, but said a minimum wage would be “better debated in later legislation, so as not delay this round of relief.”

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