Sunday, January 24, 2021

Biden to push $ 1.9 billion stimulus for pandemic-stricken US economy

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Joe Biden will ask Congress to spend $ 1.9 billion on an economic bailout, including new direct payments to Americans, aid to states and local governments, and more funding for the pandemic response.

The plan, described by senior officials in Mr. Biden’s new administration, will be unveiled by the President-elect of the United States in a speech Thursday evening, making him a top legislative priority when he enters the White House this week. next.

If adopted, the package would give a new fiscal stimulus to the struggling US recovery, after a $ 900 billion package agreed last month by U.S. lawmakers and spent $ 3 billion in relief at the start of the pandemic.

“The need is immediate and the urgency is increasing, both because of the trajectory of the virus. . . and because of the trajectory of the economy, ”one of Mr. Biden’s key aides said at a briefing.

The plan released Thursday is expected to mark the first step in Mr Biden’s economic response to the coronavirus downturn, with additional recovery measures to be presented as early as next month.

The second stage of Mr Biden’s economic agenda should require longer-term spending on infrastructure, green energy and education, funded at least partially by higher taxes on the rich and on businesses.

Democrats in Congress are generally expected to support the stimulus. Mr Biden’s party already controls the House of Representatives and is ready to pick up a majority in the Senate in the coming days after winning two races in Georgia earlier this month.

The new president is also hoping to gain the support of some Republicans. The level of stimulus support will be a first test of its ability to provide more legislative unity on Capitol Hill following the tensions and divisions of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Mr Biden’s $ 1.9 billion plan, which will be fully funded by new borrowing, includes a new payment of $ 1,400 to most Americans, in addition to the $ 600 checks received recently from people earning less. of $ 75,000 per year. This would bring the total value of recent direct payments to $ 2,000, the level supported by Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden in recent months.

It includes a $ 400-a-week extension of emergency unemployment benefits through September, preventing a cliff of support for the unemployed that would have occurred in March.

There will also be an infusion of $ 350 billion for State and local governments under budget preventing layoffs of public sector workers, a priority for Democrats that Republicans have long opposed.

An additional $ 50 billion will be set aside for grants and loans to struggling small businesses, in addition to the paycheck protection program put in place during the pandemic to prevent small business bankruptcies, which has was recently reconstituted by Congress.

An important part of Mr Biden’s bailout is $ 400 billion in new spending to tackle the coronavirus crisis, including $ 20 billion for a national immunization program that could help the administration meet its goal of vaccinate 100 million people in the first 100 days.

The mix also includes $ 130 billion to speed up the reopening of schools across the country.

The president-elect is also expected to ask Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, a Democratic priority for many years backed by unions.

And it will push for an extension of a federal moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until September, while providing $ 30 billion in aid to Americans struggling with rental and utility payments.

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