United States president-elect Joe Biden laid out his plan for another US$ 1.9 trillion economic rescue package on Thursday, seeking to combat the economic and health crises stemming from the pandemic.
The stimulus plan is designed to provide another infusion of federal aid for families, businesses and local governments confronting a surge of cases and a weakening economy. Thousands of Americans are still dying from the virus each day and infections are still rising.
Biden's proposal called The American Rescue Plan includes:
Federal unemployment programs for gig workers, freelancers, and people who exhausted their state benefits would also be extended to September.
Biden faces a delicate balancing act in the initial days of his presidency. A pair of victories last week in the Georgia runoffs gave Democrats control of the Senate — and they are poised to control the full levers of power in Washington for the first time in a decade.
It opens the door for Democrats to enact an array of legislation on the economy, healthcare, and climate change without GOP votes using the reconciliation process. But a second impeachment trial for President Donald Trump threatens to slow down cabinet confirmations and other parts of Biden's agenda.
The president-elect has said he is hopeful that Democrats can balance both. It is unclear how that should work out.
You can walk and chew gum at the same time. We're going to have two-tracks, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the incoming chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview on Thursday. I'm not going to let anything get in the way of our advancing an agenda when the economy is so fragile and people are hurting.
Wyden also said he would press to restore the US$ 600 federal unemployment benefit in the final Biden plan. He added it still needed to undergo Congressional negotiations.
There are signs the economic recovery is in danger of backsliding. New data from the Department of Labor on Thursday showed 1.4 million people filed for unemployment last week, a notable jump after the holiday season. Nearly 18 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits.
Last week, another government report indicated that the economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, the first time since April.