President-elect Joe Biden is throwing his support behind a recently introduced $900 billion bipartisan stimulus bill. Just two days after the bill was introduced, the former vice president said that he believed the package was a "good start" to reaching a deal on much-needed aid and urged Congress to approve it.
Biden backed the bill when speaking during a Thursday interview with CNN host Jake Tapper, stating that he thinks "it should be passed," according to The Hill. While Biden admitted that he does not think the proposal is "enough," he vowed to "ask for more" once he is inaugurated on Jan. 20, stating, "when we get there to get things done." His remarks mirrored comments he made on Tuesday while unveiling his economic team. During that event, Biden had told reporters, "any package passed in lame-duck session is — at best — just a start." He also called on Congress to "come together" and "pass a robust package" sooner rather than later.
The bill, introduced Tuesday amid the ongoing legislative stalemate, totals $908 billion. That amount is far lower than the $2.2 trillion proposals embraced by House Democrats and nearly double the $500 billion measure backed by Senate Republicans. Regardless, it is a bipartisan approach that includes targeted provisions both sides of the aisle have supported, including funneling $288 billion into the Paycheck Protection Program, $160 billion in state and local government aid, $82 billion for schools, $45 billion for transportation, $180 billion in additional unemployment insurance, and $16 billion for vaccine distribution, testing, and contact tracing. It also seeks to provide funding for rental assistance, child care, and broadband.
Since its introduction, a growing number of lawmakers have backed the bill, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. While the two senior Democratic leaders had reportedly directly sent a different proposal to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, they have since abandoned that offer to support the bipartisan effort. In a joint statement shared just after the package was revealed, Pelosi and Schumer said that "the bipartisan framework introduced by Senators yesterday should be used as the basis for immediate bipartisan, bicameral negotiations."
At this time, it remains unclear how the package will fare in congressional votes. While McConnell had rejected the proposal, The Hill reports that he and Pelosi held talks about reaching a deal on Thursday. President Donald Trump has also indicated that he is ready to sign a relief bill, telling reporters from the Oval Office that he wants "it to happen, and I believe they're getting very close to a deal."