On Friday, Democrats decided to push through with trying to approve a COVID-19 relief package. This package will give out checks worth $1,400 to eligible individuals. It also includes boosted unemployment benefits and funding for the management and distribution of vaccines.
President Joe Biden laid out why the country needs the American Recovery Plan in a speech he made after meeting with Democratic leaders in Congress. He said, “I know some in Congress think we’ve already done enough to deal with the crisis.”
He added that it’s not what he sees and that he sees an “enormous pain” in the country. The president mentioned that there are many people who are unemployed and who are going hungry. With this, he promised that he is ”going to act, and I am going to act fast.”
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For a while, those in the Democratic party considered seeking Republican approval. However, they made it clear that they do not mind acting without Republican backing. They also reiterated that they do not plan on shooting down the $1.9 trillion proposal just to get bipartisan support.
The president himself stated that he would not reduce the worth of the stimulus checks that will be distributed among Americans. Lowering the worth of the checks was one of the suggestions some legislators were pushing for. However, the president said he is committed to “go big” rather than having a plan that would fall short.
Biden also slammed the argument made by Republicans that the U.S. should not risk increasing the national debt. Regarding this, the president addressed the American people and said the country not having the money to help them alleviate the suffering caused by the pandemic was “neither true nor necessary.”
Congress to Fast-Track Bill for COVID-19 Relief Package
The president said: “We do have the resources. We just have to choose to use them.”
On Friday morning, the Senate voted to push forward with means to secure the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, 51-50. This is something that Republicans cannot block. Similarly, the House adopted it later that afternoon, giving out the instruction to Congress to fast-track a bill.
The urgency of this bill was even amplified after news of anemic job reports surfaced on Friday. The report showed that January had seen only 49,000 jobs added. With this, members of the Democratic Party said they needed to act swiftly. Many of them also said that there may be worse repercussions for underdelivering than from spending a lot of money.
Regarding the jobs report, Biden said, “It’s very clear our economy is still in trouble.”
The possibility of the package being approved was boosted earlier this week when the most conservative Democrat in Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va), said “if it’s $1.9 trillion, so be it.”
However, his condition is for this to be bipartisan.
President Biden and leaders from the Democratic party say they would still consider Republican backing. However, they reiterated that a bill becoming bipartisan not as important as the substance it brings.