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Murkowski 1 of 10 GOP senators who met with Biden on pandemic relief

President Joe Biden meets Republican lawmakers to discuss a coronavirus relief package, in the...
President Joe Biden meets Republican lawmakers to discuss a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, Feb. 1, 2021, in Washington. From left, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.(Evan Vucci | AP)
Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 7:00 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Ten Republican senators including Sen. Lisa Murkowski met with President Joe Biden Monday in the Oval Office to talk about their $600 billion plan, putting it up against Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.

In an interview after the meeting, Murkowski said she does not believe the partisan outcome is the best way to start this “new age in Washington.”

Murkowski said, in the past year, Congress has passed five bipartisan bills totaling an amount in excess of $4 trillion.

“We need to push out more when it comes to vaccine procurement, we need to move on that, we need to do more to avoid the unemployment cliff in March, we agree with that,” said Murkowski.

One topic that Murkowski said she brought up during the meeting was additional funding in the Provider Relief Fund, saying she would like to see $35 billion added to the fund to help hospitals in rural areas.

“We wanted to add $35 billion in that, with a set aside for rural hospitals, and we had a good exchange, the president and I on this particular area, with the recognition that, yes, in fact, we have, we have overlooked the impact in our rural areas.” Murkowski went on the say, “the mortality rate for COVID is three times higher in rural areas than in non-metropolitan areas.”

But there are some areas of Biden’s plan that Murkowski did not agree with. Such as raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Currently, the minimum wage in Alaska sits at $10.25. Murkowski said raising the minimum wage will hurt businesses.

“Do you really think that is going to create more jobs? What’s going to happen is your restaurant that has been struggling, throughout is not going to be able to bring on that extra person, because they won’t be able to meet the staffing.”

Murkowski said she is open to a discussion about raising the minimum wage but doesn’t feel it belongs in Biden’s coronavirus relief plan.

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