President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a coronavirus response plan Thursday
evening, emphasizing the urgency of passing legislation to help Americans
through the pandemic and the economic crisis it has wrought.
this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost
the dignity and respect that comes with a paycheck,” Biden said in an address
introducing the American Rescue Plan.
plan includes a new round of direct payments of $1,400 for most Americans,
funding to promote the safe opening of schools and mounting a national vaccine
program. Also included is $400 a week in additional unemployment insurance,
relief to small businesses, notably those owned by entrepreneurs of color, was
also detailed in the plan.
which the transition team described as “ambitious, but achievable,” is
estimated to total $1.9 trillion, according to a statement released ahead of
is a figure Republicans called too large not that long ago.
This time, Biden, a Democrat, will have a Democratically controlled
House, by a slim margin, and Senate split 50-50 with Vice President-elect
Kamala Harris available to break ties.
One Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, on January 8
tweeted: “If the next round of stimulus checks goes out they should be targeted
to those who need it.”
Biden had already set a goal of administering 100 million vaccine shots
in the first 100 days after he takes office on January 20. Thursday’s plan
included details of a $20 billion national plan that will include funding for
community centers and mobile vaccination centers for remote areas, in
coordination with state and local governments.
will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we have ever undertaken
as a nation,” Biden said Thursday.
"We’ll have to move heaven and Earth to get more people
vaccinated," he added.
The U.S. government has approved two different vaccines for emergency
use. Both require a two-shot regimen. So far, more than 10 million people have
received the first dose.
impeachment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatens to crowd the
Senate calendar, but Biden said he hoped the Senate could balance impeachment
with other priorities.
The United States has recorded more than 388,000 COVID-19 deaths,
according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, and for more than
two months, the nation has been dealing with its worst surge in infections.
During the past week, the country has added an average of 245,000 new
cases per day with 3,300 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. Hospitalizations
for COVID-19 are at record highs.