President-elect Joe Biden delivered a primetime speech Thursday night in which he outlined his recently unveiled $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan." Biden's team touted that the plan would, "change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge towards economic recovery, and invest in racial justice."
Among the most prominent aspects of the massive spending bill is individual $1,400 checks that would be sent to all Americans to supplement the $600 checks that were already distributed. Doing so would bring the total to Biden's preferred $2,000 per individual.
Other elements in the COVID-19 relief spending bill include:
- Expansion of paid sick, family, and medical leave to 14 weeks
- Minimum wage increase to $15 an hour
- Unemployment insurance supplemented an additional $400 per week
- $170 billion to offer financial relief to students and to assist reopening schools
- Maintain the 15% increase for SNAP benefits through September
- $25 billion for rent assistance
- $15 billion to provide more than 1 million small businesses emergency grants
While Biden will benefit from Democrat control of both the House and Senate, neither is a significant majority and could potentially be derailed by a handful of defections. West Virginia's Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin is one that has appeared skeptical of the package.
"How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed?" Manchin said last Friday. "And I can't tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that's already got a check."
In his speech, Biden said the top priority for the package is a national vaccination and testing program.