Joe Biden introduced a $1.9 trillion spending package that aims to speed distribution of the coronavirus vaccines and provide economic relief.
President-elect Joe Biden’s $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief proposal quickly drew criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress after he unveiled the plan Thursday.
Biden’s proposal includes $20 billion for a national vaccination program, $1,400 stimulus checks and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. But progressive lawmakers wanted bigger checks and some Republicans argue the plan doesn’t do enough to restart an economy decimated by the pandemic.
“President-Elect Biden launches yet another economic blind buffalo that does nothing to save Main Street businesses, get people back to work, or strengthen our economy,” Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said in a statement. “Special interests and liberals are cheering. The jobless and Main Street are left shaking their heads.”
But Biden was also criticized by some progressive lawmakers for not including $2,000 stimulus checks, which he previously said he supports.
More: Biden introduces $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that includes $1,400 stimulus checks
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told the Washington Post Biden’s stimulus proposal doesn’t go far enough.
“$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,″ Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist, told the Post.
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., sent a simple tweet criticizing Biden’s stimulus proposal: “$1,400 ≠ $2,000.”
Biden may face uphill battles trying to get his proposal passed in Congress once he takes office Wednesday, as Democrats hold slim majorities in the House and Senate. Democrats currently hold a 222-to-211 advantage in the House and the Senate is split 50-50 with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have opposed sending larger stimulus checks to Americans, and the criticisms from progressives on Biden’s proposal could pose a threat to get the legislation passed.
During the December debate on whether stimulus checks should be $2,000, many Republicans opposed the measure. In December, Brady was quick to criticize a proposal that would have increased the $600 stimulus check to $2,000.
“Will this stimulate our local economies? Not a lot,” Brady said on the House floor in December. “What we know is that much of this extra $1,600 will go to pay down credit card debt, or savings, or even make new purchases online at Walmart, Best Buy, or Amazon.”
Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, was one of a few Republican members who released a statement Thursday evening following Biden’s announcement.
In response to Biden’s proposal, Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., questioned why Biden would propose imposing “a costly $15 minimum wage on small businesses.
“If you actually wanted to create more jobs during this pandemic, then why would you impose a costly $15 minimum wage on small businesses? This is just another example of progressives trying to pass their liberal agenda under the guise of COVID relief,” he wrote in the tweet.
Even one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — a moderate Democrat in the Senate, has expressed his opposition to another round of stimulus checks after the $600 check passed in December.
More: Biden launches new Twitter account to build following before taking command of White House @POTUS on Inauguration Day
But Democrats were also quick to praise Biden’s proposal.
“Once President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris are inaugurated, the Senate should move quickly to pass additional COVID relief and truly start our country on a path to a more equitable future on the other side of this pandemic,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement Thursday.
The top Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have also vowed to get Biden’s proposal passed.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a joint statement, they “will get right to work to turn President-elect Biden’s vision into legislation that will pass both chambers and be signed into law.”
“These proposals by the Biden-Harris administration will be critical to getting our country through this challenging period and towards a period of recovery,” the statement continued. “We echo the president-elect’s call for bipartisan action on his proposal and hope that our Republican colleagues will work with us to quickly enact it.”
During his speech Thursday, Biden noted that he will work with both parties in Congress “to move quickly to get the American rescue plan to the American people.”
“We can make permanent investments to rescue rebuild America. It’s the right thing for our economy. It’s the fair thing, it’s the decent thing to do,” Biden said. “We not only have an economic imperative to act now. I believe we have a moral obligation.”
President-elect Joe Biden called the current rollout of the coronavirus vaccine “a dismal failure” as he highlighted his $1.9 trillion plan to combat the pandemic and provide additional relief. (Jan. 15)
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/01/15/gop-progressives-aoc-criticize-biden-covid-19-relief-package/4172318001/