Even before President Biden was sworn into office, his administration unveiled their $1.9 trillion rescue plan to fight the ongoing economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the United States continuously struggles through a winter of surging coronavirus cases, this rescue plan outlines the type of aid the new administration plans to provide, including assisting/adding to state and local aid, providing benefits for the unemployed, and administering a mass vaccination distribution plan. This plan provides the American people with assurance that the Biden administration is being proactive and giving people a sense of hope for their future.
Though many argue that $1.9 trillion may put the United States in an economic depression in the future, compared with other relief plans from the past, this one is quite similar. In December, Congress passed a $900 billion relief program, and by March, that number rapidly grew to $2 trillion. However, President Biden reassured the country, stating, “During this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost dignity and respect that comes with the job and a paycheck. There is real pain overwhelming the real economy. The very health of our nation is at stake … [This] does not come cheaply, but failure [will] cost us dearly.”
So where exactly will all this money go? The Biden administration plans to split the money—more than $400 billion—to fight the pandemic by increasing vaccine supply in order to safely reopen jobs and schools. $350 billion will be allocated to help state and local governments with their budgets. This plan also includes direct payments to Americans, unemployment benefits, and pay for workers taking a leave of absence from work. $1,400 checks will be provided to individuals (depending on their income) in hopes of making a bigger impact than the $600 checks that went to Americans as part of the December relief plan. President Biden is also asking Congress to extend emergency unemployment insurance programs in order to provide “a $400 per week unemployment insurance supplement to help hard hit workers.”
Additionally, this plan could provide a pathway for schools to reopen. Within Biden’s first 100 days in office, his administration plans to allocate $170 billion for schools—$130 trillion would go towards reopening schools, while the $40 trillion would go towards helping colleges and universities with online learning and pandemic problems. It also ensures Americans that $440 billion will be allocated to helping communities, not just schools.
Finally, this leads to an important question you’re probably wondering about—what about the vaccines? Biden’s plan entails using $160 billion to fund a national vaccination program, expand and add more tests, protect public health job programs, and other safety measures needed to fight this deadly virus. They plan on investing $20 billion into the national vaccination program, instating that you can receive a vaccination without any repercussions regarding their immigration status. Approximately $50 billion would go towards getting vaccines itself while $40 billion would go toward protective gear (PPE) and emergency response supplies.
So what’s holding the Biden administration from using this plan? Well, it’s simple: Congress. A plan that requires so many expenses brings up the question of how easily Biden would be able to secure enough votes to move on with this plan. Even though Biden was able to secure enough democratic victories in the Georgia elections which gave him control of the senate, he still has the responsibility to the country to bridge the heavy divide between Republicans and Democrats for the sake of bipartisanship.