Biden Calls for More Aid Spending, Warns of ‘Darkest Days’ Ahead
(Bloomberg) -- President-elect Joe Biden warned the “darkest days” of the coronavirus pandemic were still to come and called on Congress to be ready early next year to produce another stimulus package, even though the most recent one took months to complete.
“Our darkest days in the battle against Covid are ahead of us, not behind us,” he said at a year-end news conference in Wilmington, Delaware.
Biden said the country needs to support state and local governments, which have seen resources plunge during the pandemic, and also offer other economic stimulus.
“Congress did its job this week and I can -- and I must -- ask them to do it again next year,” he said.
When pressed for what he wanted in the next round of stimulus, Biden refused to specify a dollar amount or predict the outcome.
He said no one in U.S. history had been able to “assure exactly what Congress is going to do.”
“I can’t assure anything, but I can tell you what I expect,” he said.
Biden said he expected Congress to provide enough money to vaccinate 300 million Americans, provide unemployment insurance, put in place eviction moratoriums, fund protective equipment for front-line health care workers and provide more direct payments.
He said he believed the proposals would have bipartisan support because Americans made clear in the election they want lawmakers “to reach across the aisle and work together on matters of national concern.”
Congress passed the second-biggest economic rescue package in U.S. history as part of a massive $900 billion year-end spending bill Monday.
In addition to funding government operations for the rest of the fiscal year, the legislation will provide aid for small businesses, supplemental unemployment benefits and $600 stimulus payments to most Americans and their children starting as soon as next week. It also includes money for schools, airlines and for distribution of vaccines.
More than 18 million Americans have been infected with the virus and more than 321,000 have died.
Vaccines started being deployed last week with first responders, lawmakers and some elderly getting the first round of injections. Biden, 78, was vaccinated on live TV on Monday. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will get hers next week.
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