Biden unveils $1.9 trillion plan as US recovery buckles
President-elect Joe Biden will propose injecting $1.9 trillion into the US economy when he takes office next week, as evidence mounts that the recovery from the sharp downturn caused by COVID-19 is flagging.
With his fellow Democrats narrowly controlling both houses of Congress, Biden has a shot at passing what would be the United States' third massive pandemic aid package.
Dubbed the American Rescue Plan, the proposal released Thursday includes a host of measures aimed at revitalizing the world's largest economy.
Biden aims to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, help struggling state and local governments, safely reopen schools, roll out a massive COVID-19 vaccination campaign and raise the size of stimulus checks Congress approved last month.
"The return on these investment in jobs, racial equity will prevent long-term economic damage, and the benefits will far surpass the cost,” Biden said during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. “In this moment of crisis... we cannot afford inaction.”
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi embraced Biden's plan, vowing to put it before lawmakers.
“We will get right to work to turn President-elect Biden's vision into legislation that will pass both chambers and be signed into law,” they said in a joint statement.
The US government on Thursday reported a spike in new jobless claim filings in the first week of 2021 to nearly a million, its highest level since August, while official data last week showed the economy shed jobs in December.
Biden, 78, will take office after a tumultuous transition that saw a violent crowd invade the US Capitol, egged on by outgoing President Donald Trump, as lawmakers were meeting to certify the Democrat's election victory.