President-elect Joe Biden plans to propose a $1.9 trillion rescue package to help the U.S. economy during the coronavirus crisis. The package, which could be the biggest since the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed in March 2020 if it comes to fruition, will include $1,400 direct payments to Americans, reports The New York Times. The most recent stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump in December cost $900 billion and included $600 direct stimulus checks for Americans.
Biden's proposal includes $400 billion to combat the pandemic, including increasing the distribution of the vaccine and helping most schools to reopen within 100 days of the bill passing. It will also include $350 billion to help state and local governments erase budget shortfalls. The $1,400 stimulus checks will also not be the only help for Americans, as higher unemployment benefits, federally mandated paid leave, and more subsidies for child care are included.
When Biden takes office, he will inherit an economy in crisis, a the Labor Department reported that 1.15 million Americans filed for unemployment claims for the first time during the first week of 2021. That was a 25% jump from the previous week. The country also lost 140,000 jobs in December alone. However, Biden will still have to get this new proposal passed by Congress. The high cost might be a problem with Republican senators, an issue that kept any coronavirus package from passing during the summer. Democrats will have a slim majority in the Senate, but only thanks to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote.
The proposal's cost is a sign that Biden wants to have some Republican support, as the Washington Post points out. It is just under $2 trillion, and some Democratic priorities will be held back for later legislation. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who will become majority leader soon, asked Biden to propose a stimulus package with a high price tag, sources told the Post. Democratic aides said if Republicans are unwilling to support the package, they could use "budget reconciliation," the same procedure Republicans used to pass the big tax cut bill during Trump's administration. President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act was also passed using that procedure.
Biden is scheduled to deliver a speech on the proposal at 7:15 p.m. ET Thursday night. The speech comes a day after his predecessor was impeached for a second time, and the Senate could be focusing on the impeachment trial during the first days of Biden's administration. The proposal is also being unveiled as the coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate. On Tuesday, the U.S. saw a record number of deaths, with over 4,200 people dead from coronavirus complications in a single day.