US President-elect Joe Biden unveiled Thursday a $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief plan to stimulate the American economy, which faces the worst recession since the Great Depression in 1929.
The relief bill proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, includes immediate measures toward unemployment, housing, education, and COVID-19 testing.
The bill is the first of two major stimulus packages that Biden will urgently seek for approval after his inauguration on Jan. 20.
A second bill, expected in February, will include broader measures, such as job creation, lowering unemployment, and fighting racial inequality and climate change.
"The crisis of human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s no time to waste," Biden said when he announced the plan from his transition headquarters in the state of Delaware.
"We have to act, and we have to act now ... I know what I just described does not come cheaply, but failure to do so will cost us dearly. The consensus among leading economists is we simply cannot afford not to do what I’m proposing," he added.
The proposal calls for an additional direct payment check of $1,400 to eligible individuals, which will come on top of the $600 checks to jobless Americans that were approved by Congress in December and started to be distributed earlier this month.
Biden plans to raise the federal weekly unemployment benefit set to end in March to $400 and extend it through September, and he wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
The plan proposes to boost rental assistance for low- and moderate-income jobless households to $50 billion, from $25 billion approved last month, and wants to extend eviction and foreclosure measures until the end of September.
Biden wants to set aside another $3 billion to help women, infants, and children for food aid, and add another $15 billion to an existing program to help childcare providers.
As for health insurance, he wants to adjust the premium subsidies of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare that was signed into law by his former boss President Barack Obama, in order to prevent people from paying more than 8.5% of their income for health care coverage.
To fight the negative impact of the pandemic, Biden wants to set aside $350 billion in state and local government aid.
While $20 billion is proposed for a national vaccine program in coordination with states and local governments, $50 billion is required to go toward nationwide COVID-19 testing.
For education, $170 billion is aimed toward K-12 schools and higher education institutions.
Although Biden's first bill of $1.9 trillion could raise some eyebrows from Republican lawmakers, Democrats on Jan. 6 regained the control of the Congress that is expected to support Biden's proposals.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.