Joe Biden announces plan for $1,400 stimulus check, $15 minimum wage

Joe Biden has declared its intention to move quickly to sign a coronavirus relief bill, proposing a package which includes direct cash payments for Americans reeling from the fallout of the pandemic and accompanying economic crisis.

Under the plan Biden outlined Thursday night, most Americans will get a $1,400 cash injection while those collecting unemployment will get an additional $400 a week in extra help. The president-elect also proposes to more than double the federal minimum wage to $15.

“A crisis of profound human suffering is in plain sight. There’s no time to lose. We need to act, and we need to act now,” Biden said Thursday. “We cannot afford inaction.”

The US bailout, as Biden calls it, is the first of two packages he intends to introduce in his first 100 days in office. (The second half of the equation, which will include investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy and the “care economy,” Biden plans to detail when he addresses Congress in February.)

The $1,400 check announced by Biden on Thursday is meant to be taken as adding to the $600 recently passed by Congress for a total of $2,000 – the figure first proposed by Trump in December and promised by Biden if the Democrats managed to win both seats in the Senate. in Georgia. “We will complete the job to get a total of $2,000 in cash assistance to those who need it most,” Biden said. “The $600 already allocated just isn’t enough.”

In addition to direct payments of $1,400, Biden announced he would seek $400 a week for unemployed Americans. It’s desperately needed help – just hours before his speech on Thursday, the Labor Department said 965,000 Americans filed new unemployment claims last week – the biggest jump since the pandemic began in March.

The plan also contains an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour — more than double the $7.25 figure where it has languished for more than a decade. Biden’s former rival for the nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, applauded the provision, calling the direct payments and increased minimum wage a “very solid first tranche” of a relief plan. Rita Blalock, a 54-year-old worker at a McDonalds in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a member of the grassroots organization Fight for $15, said she was “thrilled” with Biden’s proposal.

“For me, $15 an hour would be life changing,” Blalock said in a statement. “It’s a struggle to pay the rent for the single room where I’m staying. Even having enough to eat is sometimes a struggle. I’m 54 and I’ve worked all my life, but $10 an hour is the most I’ve ever received. She said she hoped Congress would move quickly to pass the increase. “We cannot and will not return to the status quo after the pandemic is over, because the status quo is not working for us. Essential workers across the country need relief. »

The plan includes a national immunization program, with the goal of administering 100 million vaccines in its first 100 days in office. Biden called the current vaccine rollout, in which only 11.1 million Americans have received at least their first dose, a “dismal failure.” Four thousand coronavirus-related deaths were recorded Thursday in the United States, the second day in a row, for a total of nearly 386,000 deaths to date.

Before details of the plan were released on Thursday, members of Biden’s team telegraphed that the plan would be narrowly tailored, hoping to convince Senate Republicans to sign the bill. Some have already expressed support for direct cash payments, including Sens. Marco Rubio and Josh Haley. Rubio expressed interest in the $2,000 checks in a letter to Biden last week, and in December, before trying to undermine Biden’s election, Hawley tried to force a vote on inserting a provision for direct cash payments of $1,200 in the latest covid relief bill. (His effort was blocked by Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.) Sen. Lindsey Graham also did a show of support $2,000 checks when Trump called them in late December

It’s unclear whether new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will schedule the package for a vote before the chamber holds its impeachment trial for Donald Trump. Biden, for his part, struck a hopeful tone Thursday, even as he took a long-term view of the current crises — health, economic, political. “We didn’t get into all of this overnight,” Biden said. “We won’t get out of this overnight. And we cannot do it as a separate and divided nation. The only way to do that is to unite. »

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