One of President Joe Biden’s top economic aides on Sunday will press Democratic and Republican senators for a fresh $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief to help struggling Americans and avert a larger economic crisis.
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said he would speak to the senators to make the case for a large rescue plan.
‘We can’t wait,’ White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Sunday. ‘Just because Washington has been gridlocked before doesn’t mean it needs to continue to be gridlocked.’
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 417,000 Americans, thrown millions out of work and is infecting more than 175,000 Americans per day, posing an immediate crisis to the Biden administration.
Biden, who took office on Wednesday, campaigned on a promise to aggressively take on the pandemic, which his predecessor President Donald Trump often downplayed and provided conflicting information about.
‘The bottom line is this: We’re in a national emergency, and we need to act like we’re in a national emergency,’ Biden said on Friday before signing executive orders on economic relief
‘We can’t wait,’ White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. ‘Just because Washington has been gridlocked before doesn’t mean it needs to continue to be gridlocked’
While Congress has already authorized $4 trillion to respond, the White House argues that another $1.9 trillion is needed to cover the costs of responding to the virus, as well as providing enhanced jobless benefits and payments to households.
‘The bottom line is this: We’re in a national emergency, and we need to act like we’re in a national emergency,’ Biden said on Friday before signing executive orders on economic relief.
The newly elected president added that he believed his relief plan would help to lift five million children from the ranks of the poor and slash child poverty in half.
The plan includes additional stimulus checks of $1,400, tax breaks and $400 extra in unemployment benefit.
Overall, these policies would reduce the poverty rate by 3.6 points, to 9 percent — which would be below pre-pandemic levels and lift nearly 12 million Americans out of poverty, according to an analysis reported by CNBC.
Though Biden’s Democratic Party holds slim majorities in the House and Senate, the legislation will likely need bipartisan support to clear procedural hurdles and emerge from the Senate.
Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said he would speak to the senators to make the case for a large rescue plan
Brian Deese held a call with a group of Senators – eight Democrats and eight Republicans – on Sunday in an attempt to drum up the necessary bipartisan support of the bill to push it through the Senate.
‘President Biden and his advisors will continue to engage and consult bipartisan groups of lawmakers, including today, to make the case why urgent action is needed to get relief to hard-hit communities and families and more resources to public health officials so we can ramp up vaccinations,’ one source told CNN.
A number of Republicans have already balked at the $1.9 trillion price tag.
Senator Mitt Romney, a moderate Republican, said he would listen to what the White House had to say, ‘but the total figure is pretty shocking,’ he told Fox News Sunday.
‘Spending and borrowing trillions of dollars from the Chinese among others is not necessarily the best thing we can do to get our economy to be strong long term,’ Romney added.
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said he was hopeful for a show of bipartisanship in the Senate. ‘The object is trying to see if there’s an area of agreement we can launch when it comes to this rescue package,’ he said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Biden signs executive orders as part of the COVID-19 response in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 21
Senator Mitt Romney, a moderate Republican, said he would listen to what the White House had to say, ‘but the total figure is pretty shocking’
Pressed on whether Biden will hold out for bipartisanship agreement to pass the package amid growing reports of Republican unease, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said the administration does want to see the proposal passed quickly, but that engaging both sides is not the ‘enemy’ of speed.
‘We’re reaching out to people,’ Klain said. ‘I don’t think bipartisanship and speed are enemies of one another. The need is urgent.’
The new president has said one of his top priorities would be unifying a bitterly divided country.
Trump’s tenure drew to a close with his second impeachment by the House of Representatives after supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in a failed attempt to overturn his election loss. Five people died in the violence.