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Biden's Stimulus Package. Photo: Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Biden's Stimulus Package promises a lot following his inauguration. Photo: Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Inside Biden’s new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package

The new bill will put more money immediately in Americans’ pockets among other initiatives that have long been asked for amid the pandemic.

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President-elect Joe Biden is coming in hot with a new COVID-19 stimulus package that will provide more assistance for the unemployed, the disabled community, those facing food insecurity and eviction. 

The $1.9 trillion proposal, known as the “American Rescue Plan,” will also offer support for small businesses, states and local governments, and increase funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. 

The plan has been admired by progressive groups as well as by the nation’s leading business lobby, the U.S Chamber of Commerce. 

“We applaud the president-elect’s focus on vaccinations and on economic sectors and families that continue to suffer as the pandemic rages on,” the chamber said in a statement. 

Now that Democrats are in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, Biden plans to make big moves to address the immediate needs of the American people in terms of health and finance. 

He’s also preparing to lay out an economic recovery plan in the coming weeks with intentions to combat the climate crisis, create jobs and more. 

The plan also calls for an additional $1,400 stimulus check to be sent out to all eligible recipients in addition to the $600 payments that were approved by Congress in December and sent out earlier this month. 

The checks will now be given to citizens that were excluded from earlier rounds, like some children over the age of 17. 

It will also include households with mixed immigration status, since the first round of $1,200 checks left out the spouses of undocumented immigrants who do not have Social Security numbers. 

Unemployment and Rental Assistance

For those who are unemployed, Biden’s plan will increase their federal boost from $300 weekly to $400, and the payments will be extended through September 2021. The plan will also contribute $25 billion in rental assistance for low and moderate income households who have lost jobs during the pandemic, and an additional $5 billion will be set aside to help struggling renters pay their utility bills. 

Tackling Food Insecurity

Instead of the 15% increase in food stamp benefits expiring in June, Biden’s plan will extend it through September. Another $3 billion will be invested to aid women, infants and children secure food and the plan calls for partnering with restaurants to provide food to Americans in need, as well as jobs for laid-off restaurant workers. 

Health Insurance and Paid Leave

Biden is requesting that Congress subsidize the premiums for those who lost their work-based health insurance through September . He also wants Congress to dispense $4 billion to aid mental health and substance use disorder services and $20 billion to meet the health care needs of veterans. 

The plan will reestablish the paid sick leave and family leave benefits that expired at the end of December, and extend it until Sept. 30, 2021. 

It will also extend benefits to workers employed at businesses with more than 500 employees and less than 50, as well as federal workers who were excluded from the original program. Biden’s proposal will also benefit those who are sick, quarantining or caring for a child whose school is closed, by granting them 14 weeks of paid leave. 

Aid for small businesses, states, and schools

The plan seeks to create a brand new $15 billion grant program for small business providers, separate from the existing Paycheck Protection Program.

It also suggests investing $35 billion into state, local, tribal and non-profit financing programs that make low-interest loans and provide venture capital to entrepreneurs. 

COVID-19 relief and support for the disabled

Biden is calling for an investment of $20 billion into a national vaccination program to launch community vaccination centers and mobile units in hard-to-reach areas. The proposal would also invest $50 billion into testing, funding for rapid testing, extending lab capacity and assisting schools in implementing regular testing to support reopening. 

The plan also seeks to address health disparities by expanding community health centers and health services on tribal lands, and provide support to long-term care facilities experiencing outbreaks and to prisons for mitigation strategies. 

One of the most groundbreaking aspects of the plan is the raising of minimum wage to $15 an hour, thus raising the minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities. 

A regulation known as 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Acts allows businesses to apply for permits to pay disabled workers well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. In some cases, that amount can even dip down to mere pennies. 

Biden will take office on Jan. 20, and COVID relief will likely be towards the top of his agenda when plotting the future of his administration.

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