WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has met with a group of Republican senators who have proposed a slimmed down $618 billion coronavirus aid package, about a third of what he's seeking.

The Republicans propose fewer benefits, including $1,000 in direct payments to individuals earning up to $40,000 a year, or $80,000 for couples. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says there's "obviously a big gap.”

But she said Biden is interested in exchanging ideas.

The White House invitation came hours after the lawmakers sent Biden a letter urging him to negotiate rather than try to ram through his $1.9 trillion package solely on Democratic votes.

Democrats pushed ahead to lay the groundwork for passage without relying on Republican support.

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