Joe Biden unveils $1.9 trillion USA economic relief package

Biden's virus plan: 100 million shots just the start

Biden's virus plan: 100 million shots just the start

The aid package includes $US415 billion (A$536 billion) to bolster the response to the virus and the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, some $US1 trillion (A$1.3 trillion) in direct relief to households, and roughly $US440 billion (A$568 billion) for small businesses and communities particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

"A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there's no time to waste", Mr Biden said in prime-time remarks from DE on Thursday (local time). There is no time to waste.

"We have to act and we have to act now".

The vaccine distribution plan is part of Mr. Biden's broader effort to use the current crisis to rebuild the nation's crumbling public health infrastructure - long a goal of Democrats on Capitol Hill.

The pandemic is dealing fresh blows to the US economy, with more than 1.2 million Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits in the first week of the new year.

Biden described the vaccine rollout in the United States under President Donald Trump as a "dismal failure thus far".

The Trump administration invested heavily in developing a vaccine, but has left distribution largely up to states. The number of shots delivered so far has fallen far short of what was promised.

More broadly, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan calls for distributing 100 million vaccines in Biden's first 100 days in office, assistance for re-opening schools, $1,400 in payments to people who need it most, extending unemployment benefits beyond the end of March, and a $400 weekly supplement to help people make ends meet. "To mobilize more medical teams to get shots in people's arms, to increase vaccine supply, and to get it out the door as fast as possible".

The Biden team promised to ramp up vaccination in pharmacies, to build mobile vaccination clinics to get vaccine to hard-to-reach and underserved rural and urban communities.

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Policy makers and experts have said a long-term recovery of the economy is unlikely until the pandemic is under control. Chuck Schumer, who is about to lead a narrow Democratic majority in the US Senate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Mr Biden's package was "the right approach" and pledged to begin working on legislation.

Biden has said his first priority when he takes office next week is to vaccinate Americans against the virus as the pandemic continues to devastate the nation.

Among the measures he will propose are $1,400 in relief payments to most adults and children, which would come in addition to the $600 payments that were approved in December.

Supplemental unemployment insurance would also increase to $US400 a week from $US300 a week now, and would be extended to September.

Mr. Biden is also calling for $30 billion in rental, water, and energy assistance, and an extension of a federal eviction and foreclosure moratorium through September.

But his plan is colliding with a sobering reality: With only two federally authorized vaccines, supplies will be scarce for the next several months, frustrating some state and local health officials who had hoped that the release of a federal stockpile of vaccine doses announced this week could alleviate that shortage. The incoming President's proposals also includes $20 billion for a national vaccine plan and $50 billion for expanding coronavirus testing with plans to hire an army of 100,000 public health workers.

Lastly, Biden advisers have characterized his proposal as a combination of "rescue" measures to combat the immediate pain of the recession and "recovery" initiatives created to address longer-term economic challenges.

The minimum wage would be increased to $15 an hour and there would be increased tax credits for families with children.

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