President-elect Joe Biden unveiled an emergency plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday evening, focusing on economic aid and boosting vaccine production and distribution.
The effort, titled the American Rescue Plan, is projected to cost $1.9 trillion, and includes $1,400 stimulus checks; $400 billion to manage the pandemic; $350 billion in assistance for state, local, and tribal governments, and a $15 per hour federal minimum wage. Biden reportedly wants to receive bipartisan backing for his first legislative efforts, in order to convey a message of political unity following the elections, The Washington Post reported earlier on Thursday.
It is unclear, however, if Republicans will support some of the measures. Many Senate Republicans have rejected high stimulus checks, although some including Marco Rubio of Florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri have supported the effort.
Biden’s effort directs $160 billion in funding toward a national vaccination effort and expanded coronavirus testing. While the White House predicted in December that coronavirus vaccines could be distributed to 20 million people by 2021. However, as of Wednesday just 10 million people have received their first vaccine dose, while 541,000 have received the second dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine tracker.
“The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure so far,” Biden said. The president-elect pledged to organize 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office.
“President-elect Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is ambitious, but achievable, and will rescue the American economy and start beating the virus,” a Biden transition team member told Bloomberg in a statement.
“There’s a real understanding of the crisis moment that we find ourselves in, and an openness to working to try to address it,” Brian Deese, incoming director of the White House National Economic Council, told Reuters earlier this week. “So that’s our intention, is to work on a set of ideas that Democrats and Republicans can support.”
The plan was revealed as the coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S. On Tuesday alone, 4,200 people died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, while roughly 130,000 Americans are hospitalized with the illness. Since the start of the pandemic, the coronavirus has infected 23.1 million Americans—7 percent of the U.S. population—and killed 385,000.