WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to propose trillion dollar government spending on Thursday to combat the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact, with an initial focus on large-scale expansions to the national vaccination program – and virus testing capacity.
Mr. Biden will explain his plans, which he and his economic team have been working out for weeks, in an evening speech in Delaware. Efforts will cover the pandemic, the economy, health care, education, climate change and other domestic policy priorities, Brian Deese, the new director of the National Economic Council, told the Reuters Next conference on Wednesday. Top Democrats in Congress have said in the past few days that they are preparing for efforts to span two bills.
“At this moment, the president-elect believes that we need to be aggressive in both rescue and recovery,” said Deese.
Money to provide $ 2,000 in direct payments to individuals and aid to small businesses and local and state governments, components that Mr Biden has emphasized over the past few weeks, will be part of the original package, Mr Deese said. Others, briefed on Mr Biden’s deliberations, said he would also call for the first law to extend the federal additional unemployment benefit, which expires for many workers in March, and provide more help for renters.
Plans for the first package also see a significant increase in spending on vaccine use, testing and contact tracing, Deese said, and Biden will seek enough money to open most schools to increase labor force participation .
“We have to open schools,” said Deese, “so that parents, and especially women who are disproportionately injured in this economy, can go back to work.”
The Biden transition
Jan. 13, 2021, 9:42 p.m. ET
Transition team officials would not say on Wednesday how expensive Mr Biden’s proposals would likely be, or whether he would provide an estimate on Thursday. Last week, Mr Biden said he expected his full agenda to cost “trillions” dollars.
The proposals in the second installment are likely to be bigger than the first, and the Democrats plan to pay for all or some of them by levying taxes on businesses and the rich. The second package is designed to focus on job creation and infrastructure, including spending hundreds of billions of dollars on clean energy projects such as charging stations for electric vehicles, and spending on health and education, such as Mr. Biden’s team and leading Congressional Democrats have indicated.
The first bill is likely to be deficit-funded, in line with the Covid-19 relief laws that Congress passed last year.
Mr Biden has said he will work to build Republican support for his plans and it will take 10 Republican Senate votes to overcome a filibuster. But top Democrats in the House and Senate are preparing to move quickly to a parliamentary process known as budget balancing in case they can only get a simple majority in the Senate. Republicans used the process to bypass a filibuster and approve Mr Trump’s tax cuts in 2017.
The Biden transition
Impeachment during a transition
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will take office during a time of upheaval in the United States. On January 6, a mob stormed the Capitol while the presidential election was being confirmed. Trump was later accused of instigating the uprising. The impeachment process has now started. Here is a context to understand what has happened so far:
Democrats on both sides of the Capitol – including New York City Senator Chuck Schumer, who will be the majority leader – have urged Mr Biden to spend more than he originally planned in the first auxiliary bill, people familiar with the talks said.
Many House and Senate Democrats this week urged Mr. Biden to add items to the first bill, including targeted aid to restaurants and temporary expansions to the earned income tax credit and child tax credit, which could cost a little more than $ 100 billion. Economists say expanding these loans could greatly reduce child poverty when many low-income parents have lost their jobs and turn to food banks for help.
Congressional Democrats can include the extension of these credits in their legislation whether or not Mr Biden requests it. After Congress passed a $ 900 billion aid bill in December that did not include the full list of Democrats’ priorities, Mr Schumer urged committee members to draft laws that would allow the expansion of these tax credits, as well as additional direct payments and grants to state and government agencies local authorities would include governments.
The Democrats are also urging Mr Biden to include provisions in his proposal to automatically renew unemployment benefits and other federal aids until the unemployment rate drops to a certain level, in case Congress no longer approves any more bailout bills in the future.