President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal on Thursday (January 14), saying in prime-time remarks that bold investment was needed to jump-start the economy and speed up the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden campaigned last year on a promise to take the pandemic more seriously than President Donald Trump, and the package aims to put that pledge into action with an influx of resources for the coronavirus response and economic recovery.
“A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s no time to waste,” Biden said on Thursday evening. “We have to act and we have to act now.”
The aid package includes $415 billion to bolster the response to the virus and the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, some $1 trillion in direct relief to households, and roughly $440 billion for small businesses and communities particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
Stimulus payment checks would be issued for $1,400 – topping up the $600 checks issued under the last congressional stimulus legislation. Supplemental unemployment insurance would also increase to $400 a week from $300 a week now and would be extended to September.
Biden’s plan is meant to kick off his time in office with a large bill that sets his short-term agenda into motion quickly: helping the economy and getting a handle on a virus that has killed more than 385,000 people in the United States as of Thursday.
It also provides a sharp contrast with Trump, who spent the last months of his administration seeking to undermine Biden’s election victory rather than focusing on additional coronavirus relief. Trump, who leaves office on Wednesday, did support $2,000 payments to Americans, however.
Many Republicans in Congress balked at the price tag for such payments. Biden will face similar hurdles with his proposals, though he will be helped by the fact that his fellow Democrats will control both the House and the Senate.
(Production: Angela Moore)