President-elect Joe Biden released details on his $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan on Thursday. The plan includes several priorities sought by Biden's fellow Democrats, including boosting the $600 direct relief payments already going out to most Americans, and extending increased unemployment insurance. It also includes plans for accelerating vaccine distribution, boosting testing capacity, and reopening schools.
Both Democrats and President Trump pushed to put $2,000 stimulus payments in the smaller bipartisan coronavirus relief bill passed at the end of 2020. Biden wants to send $1,400 more to Americans to reach that $2,000. Biden's bill would also include a range of tax credit increases for families, allowing parents to claim up to $3,000 for each child under 17, as opposed to the current $2,000. And while the December package extended expiring unemployment programs, Biden's bill would boost unemployment payments by $400 each week through September.
The bill also includes more than $400 billion focused purely on the pandemic, including funds for tribal nations' responses, $50 billion for expanding COVID-19 testing, and $160 billion for a national vaccine program. Additionally, Biden is calling for $130 billion to help safely reopen schools within 100 days of the package's passage. Another $350 billion in the bill would go to state and local governments facing budget shortfalls. Also tucked in the bill is a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, plus funding for child care and nutrition programs.
Biden could invoke a special budgetary rule to push the legislation through Congress with only Democratic votes, but a person familiar with his transition team told CNBC Biden wants bipartisan backing, so the total cost could come in below the "trillions of dollars" Biden called for last week. Biden is scheduled to speak about the proposal on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. ET from Wilmington, Delaware.