Aides to President-elect Biden say that he will propose another massive pandemic relief bill costing $2 trillion dollars. It will include $2,000 individual checks for taxpayers.
Biden will outline more of the plan later on Thursday, but Senate Democrats are also talking seriously about merging pandemic relief with a completely unrelated infrastructure bill. It’s likely the total cost for both measures together will exceed $3 trillion.
Moreover, Democrats are discussing ways to use budget reconciliation to pass most of their legislation. This would mean the filibuster would be off the table and legislation could pass by a simple majority.
The Biden team is taking a “shoot for the moon” approach with the package, one lawmaker in close contact with them told CNN, though they added that the price tag could still change. The proposal will include sizable direct payments to American families, significant state and local funding — including for coronavirus vaccine distribution and other emergency spending measures — to help those struggling during the pandemic.
Biden is set to announce the details of his plan in Wilmington, Delaware, Thursday evening.
Democrats hold only the slimmest of majorities in the House and the Senate, and Republicans have recently resisted efforts to pass Covid-19 relief on a multi-trillion dollar scale. But Biden’s party believes it may have only a brief window to pass sweeping relief legislation and the President-elect has faced significant pressure from some Democrats to go big.
Also on the table will be more extra unemployment payments and aid to state and local governments that are suffering budget shortfalls because of the pandemic. Some of that cash is likely to go into fixing state pension systems, run into the ground by Democratic governors and their public union allies.
There will be money for vaccine distribution, schools, and other health care concerns, but it’s also likely that the individual checks to taxpayers will be a standalone bill passed very shortly after Biden is sworn in.
Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a standalone bill on increasing the value of the checks, but with Democrats about to take control of the chamber — and of Congress — following victories in two Georgia Senate runoff elections, Biden will likely have the votes to approve increased relief spending.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York has said that one of the first bills he’d like to pass once he becomes Senate majority leader would raise stimulus payments to $2,000.
With unemployment claims skyrocketing, Congress is likely to act swiftly before the economy tumbles into another recession.