President-elect Joe Biden vowed Friday to deliver immediate economic relief to Americans through a new COVID stimulus package just days after Democrats won control of the Senate.
Biden, who will assume the presidency once he’s inaugurated on Jan. 20, suggested part of his plan will include billions of dollars in spending for COVID vaccine distribution and tens of millions of dollars to reopen schools safely around the country.
“I also hope that Democratic control of the House and Senate will raise the odds of prompt action on increasing the minimum wage,” he said. “It’s time to raise the minimum wage so hard-working people earn at least $15 an hour, minimum.”
Another focus will be small businesses “that aren’t wealthy and well-connected,” businesses Biden said were overlooked during President Trump’s one term in the White House.
Businesses owned by Blacks and Hispanics, in particular, are in far more danger of closing down permanently due to the economic hardships caused by COVID. Those businesses were also less likely to get relief under Trump.
“Mom and pop shops were often the last in line while big, well-connected businesses jumped in front of the line and got more relief and got it faster,” Biden said. “At every turn, this administration, the Trump administration, has undermined accountability for every tax dollar spent.”
Rooting out corruption connected with those federal dollars and prosecuting it will also figure into Biden’s plan.
The president-elect said he would unveil more details on his COVID economic relief package next week and urged Congress to act as quickly as possible on his priorities.
“That’s how we can contain the pandemic [and] build back better with an economy that works for all Americans,” he said.
Biden also announced three more cabinet nominees — Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as his next Commerce Secretary, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary and Isabel Guzman, who heads California’s small business advocacy division, to lead the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Biden said he “gave serious consideration” to nominating Sen. Bernie Sanders as Labor Secretary, but that they agreed it would put Sanders’ Senate seat in jeopardy of being lost to a Republican.
Democrats control the Senate by a razor thin margin, 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris representing the tie-breaking vote if needed.
“I’m confident he could have done a fantastic job,” Biden said of Sanders. “We also discussed how we’d work together, travel the country together, helping Marty, meeting with working men and women who feel forgotten and left behind in this economy. We agreed we would work closely on our shared agenda.”