Biden announced his plan during a speech from Wilmington, DE, adding that he wants bipartisan support for it. The former vice president’s plan will expand testing, accelerate vaccine distribution, and extend unemployment insurance. The stimulus package will also put billions into safely reopening schools, send $1,400 checks to Americans, and include housing and rent relief.
“We will have to move Heaven and Earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in peoples’ arms, and to increase vaccine supply and get it out the door as fast as possible,” Biden said Wednesday.
Unlike the Trump administration, Biden’s stimulus package will create a national vaccination program that will establish community vaccination sites across the country, scale up testing and tracing, and provide sick leave to contain the spread.
The Biden administration will also fund 100,000 public health workers, tripling the country’s community health roles. These health workers will work in their local communities to perform vaccine outreach, contact tracing, and will eventually build out long-term public health roles.
Biden has picked David Kessler to take over the Warp Speed program, which has started at a snail’s pace. Kessler previously ran the Food and Drug Administration under former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and advised the Biden transition team on a coronavirus response.
The plan will also send $1,400 stimulus checks to individuals and households, provide direct housing and nutrition assistance, expand access to safe and reliable childcare and affordable healthcare, increase the minimum wage, and extend unemployment insurance.
“You see, if you are an American worker making $40,000 a year with less than $400 in savings, maybe you’ve lost hours, or maybe you’re doing fewer shifts driving a truck, or caring for kids, or the elderly,” Biden said. “You’re out there putting your life on the line to work during this pandemic and worried every week that you’ll get sick, lose your job, or worse.
“$2,000 is going to go a long way to ease that pain,” Biden added.
Biden’s package also provides funding to small businesses, specifically those owned by minority and female entrepreneurs. The stimulus package provides flexible, equitably distributed grants to more than 1 million of the hardest hit businesses. The package will also leverage $35 billion to invest in state, local, tribal, and non-profit small business financing programs to generate $175 billion in low-interest loans and venture capital to help entrepreneurs, especially those in the clean energy sector.
The investment will help innovate, create, and maintain jobs, build wealth, and provide the essential goods and services that communities depend on.
“Our rescue plan will provide flexible grants to help the hardest hit small businesses survive the pandemic,” Biden said. “And low-cost capital to help entrepreneurs of all backgrounds create and maintain jobs, plus provide the essential goods and services that communities depend on.
“It will focus on small businesses on Main Street. It will focus on minority-owned small businesses and women-owned small businesses finally having equal access to the resources they need to reopen and rebuild” Biden added.
Despite the lofty goals of Biden’s stimulus package, the administration expects resistance from Republicans. A senior Democratic aide told Politico that getting the 60 votes to pass the bill isn’t “out of the realm of possibility,” but also added Democrats won’t have patience for political games and are preparing to use the budget reconciliation process to pass the bill without Republican support.
The second coronavirus relief package took more than seven months to negotiate and came up significantly short of what Democrats originally wanted. While Democrats will have more power this time around, it’s not enough that Republicans can’t throw a wrench into the plans.
Less, than a day after Biden released the plan, Republican are saying no to it. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) blasted the plan as wasteful and economically harmful.
“Sending another $1,400 to children, the deceased, and tens of millions of workers who haven’t missed a paycheck, like federal and state employees, is senseless and will likely slow down a recovery in . employment,” Toomey said Friday. “It was a bad idea two weeks ago and it’s a bad idea now.”