Biden predicts ‘bleak future’ if Congress doesn’t act urgently on coronavirus relief

Coronavirus stimulus

WILMINGTON, Del. (NewsNation Now) — President-elect Joe Biden is predicting a “bleak future” if Congress doesn’t take speedy action on a coronavirus aid bill, amid a nationwide spike in the virus that’s hampering the nation’s recovery.

Biden delivered remarks Friday afternoon reacting to November’s national jobs report, which showed a sharp decrease in U.S. hiring even as the nation is about 10 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels. The Democrat called the report “dire” and said it “shows the economy is stalling,” but he said quick action from Congress can halt some of the damage.

“If we act now, I mean now, we can begin to regain momentum and start to build back a better future,” he said. “There’s no time to lose.”

Surging cases of the virus have led states and municipalities to roll back their re-opening plans. And more restrictions may be on the way as colder temperatures and holiday travel lead to new records for confirmed cases and deaths.

“This situation is urgent. If we don’t act now, the future will be very bleak. Americans need help and they need it now, and they need more to come early next year,” Biden said. “But I must tell you I am encouraged by the bipartisan efforts in the Senate around 900 billion dollar package for relief — it is a bipartisan effort.”

While Biden has thrown his support behind a bipartisan economic relief bill of about $900 billion, he has called it just a “down payment” and has said much more will be needed once he takes office next year. On Friday, he said he and his team have been consulting with labor leaders, CEOs, mayors and governors in crafting their own coronavirus aid bill, which will be his first legislative priority as president.

Biden expressed optimism he’ll be able to cut a deal with Republicans when he takes office, but he’s certain to face a heavy lift in navigating any bill through a closely-divided Senate. Democrats and Republicans have been deadlocked on a coronavirus aid bill for months, with Republicans opposed to a previous, more expensive bill that passed the House.

Biden himself said Friday that he plans to ask Congress for funding for expanded testing, vaccine distribution — which he’s said would be an expensive proposition — as well as jobless aid and help for those at risk of eviction. But he still expressed optimism at his ability to work with Republicans, because “the country’s gonna be in dire, dire, dire straits if they don’t.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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