- President-elect Joe Biden threw his support behind a compromise relief plan in a CNN interview.
- “I think it should be passed, and I think that, in fact, we’re going to need more,” Biden said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that aired Thursday evening.
- The relief plan appeared to gather more momentum on Capitol Hill after months of inaction from lawmakers.
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President-elect Joe Biden came out in favour of the $US908 billion compromise relief package, though maintaining he would seek more federal aid after he is sworn in on January 20.
“I think it should be passed, and I think that, in fact, we’re going to need more,” Biden said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that aired Thursday evening. “I’m going to have to ask for more help.”
Biden’s comments come as lawmakers debate the scope and components of another relief package. Congressional Democratic leaders said they supported the $US908 billion rescue plan on Wednesday as a blueprint for negotiations in a major concession from their past spending demands. It was unveiled by a centrist of group of 16 senators from both parties the day before.
The federal assistance package appeared to gain further momentum on Thursday as more GOP senators signalled they could back it. It contains $US300 federal weekly unemployment benefits, as well as some state aid and more Paycheck Protection Program funds for small businesses among other measures.
It also includes a temporary liability shield from virus-related lawsuits for businesses. But details around its structure are still being ironed out alongside other provisions. Democrats have long opposed it.
The package omits a second round of $US1,200 relief payments for taxpayers.
Biden has largely been on the sidelines as lawmakers cobble together a fourth rescue package, which still lacks legislative text. But in recent weeks he has stepped up his calls for lawmakers to pass aid now â€” while making clear he would seek a fresh round of relief for individuals and businesses upon taking office.
The US is entering a treacherous stretch of the pandemic, marking a series of grim milestones: hospitalizations exceeded 100,000 for the first time on Wednesday, and the nation recorded 2,804 deaths on the same day â€” the highest one-day total. Concerns are rising about virus-related restrictions setting back the shaky recovery.
At a virtual event on the state of the economy on Wednesday, Biden said his transition team was already drafting more economic aid legislation. He said the compromise relief plan “at best, is only going to be a down payment for what’s going to happen early next year.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has largely withdrawn from relief negotiations and placed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as the main Republican negotiator. The Kentucky Republican favours a slimmer plan that includes no extra federal unemployment funding and prioritises small business funding.
McConnell wouldn’t comment about the bipartisan deal when asked about it by reporters on Thursday. But he urged Congress to reach a deal after months of gridlock. “Compromise is within reach. We know where we agree. We can do this,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Trump appears ready to back a relief plan. “I think we are getting very close. I want it to happen,” Trump said at the White House on Thursday. “And I believe we are getting very close to a deal.”