15
Jan

Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Covid Relief Plan Calls For Stimulus Checks, Unemployment Support And More

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled the details of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package designed to support households and businesses through the pandemic.

The proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, includes several familiar stimulus measures in the hope the additional fiscal support will sustain U.S. families and firms until the Covid-19 vaccine is widely available.

Here’s what Biden calls for:

Direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans, bringing the total relief to $2,000, including December’s $600 payments

Increasing the federal, per-week unemployment benefit to $400 and extending it through the end of September

Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour

Extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until the end of September

$350 billion in state and local government aid

$170 billion for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education

$50 billion toward Covid-19 testing

$20 billion toward a national vaccine program in partnership with states, localities and tribes

Making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable for the year and increasing the credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6)

The plan is the first of two major spending initiatives Biden will seek in the first few months of his presidency, according to senior Biden officials.

The second bill, expected in February, will tackle the president-elect’s longer-term goals of creating jobs, reforming infrastructure, combating climate change and advancing racial equity.

Senior Biden officials, who have been working on the stimulus plan for weeks, also confirmed that the president-elect still supports $10,000 in student debt forgiveness.

“The crisis of human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s no time to waste,” Biden said as he unveiled the plan Thursday evening from his transition headquarters in Delaware.

“We have to act, and we have to act now.”

Biden acknowledged the ambition — and the cost — of his plan, but he argued that the bold investments will pay dividends for the nation.

“I know what I just described does not come cheaply, but failure to do so will cost us dearly,” he said. “The consensus among leading economists is, we simply cannot afford not to do what I’m proposing.”

Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan unveiled

Fellow Democratic leaders were quick to applaud the measure, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer issuing a joint statement.

“With the COVID-rescue package the President-elect announced today, he is moving swiftly to deliver that help and to meet the needs of the American people. House and Senate Democrats express gratitude toward and look forward to working with the President-elect on the rescue plan,” the two said in a press release.

“The emergency relief framework announced by the incoming Biden-Harris administration tonight is the right approach,” the pair added. “It shows that Democrats will finally have a partner at the White House that understands the need to take swift action to address the needs of struggling communities.”

The nearly $2 trillion price tag will likely draw disdain from Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky who may be wary of spending even more after December’s $900 billion bill.

Still, Biden officials said Thursday they are optimistic that the current rescue package has enough in it to make it palatable to lawmakers across the political spectrum and that the president-elect has been consulting congressional allies in recent weeks on the best path toward approval…