WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Joe Biden participated in a CNN town hall Tuesday night aimed at selling his $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package directly to the American people.
It’s part of a White House effort designed in part to put pressure on Republican lawmakers and refocus Congress on speedy passage of the bill now that his predecessor’s impeachment trial is behind him.
The proposed package includes direct relief for most Americans in the form of $1,400 stimulus checks.
During Tuesday’s town hall in Milwaukee, Biden indicated he was open to negotiating some of the more controversial components of his place — like a $15 minimum wage. Many Republicans have argued Biden’s plan is simply too expensive. Because of that concern, the process of approving the new president’s plan has moved slower than some hoped.
Whether you get a check depends on which direction Biden and Democratic leaders decide to go as the proposal makes its way through committees over the next few weeks with the goal of additional relief being finalized by mid-March. As of now, lawmakers are on break until next week.
The latest plan shows people earning $75,000 or less would receive the full $1,400 payment. That means a couple with an income below $150,000 would receive $2,800.
The checks would phase out a little quicker than previous rounds, according to that initial proposal. Individuals earning more than $100,000 and couples making more than $200,000 would not receive additional money. Just as we’ve seen with other rounds of direct payments, people who earn more than $75,000 but less than that $100,000 threshold would be able to collect smaller payments.
The draft includes payment eligibility for dependents — this time including college students. Previous rounds of stimulus didn’t include dependents over the age of 17.
Under the legislation, dependents would be eligible for a full $1,400 payment. That means a family of two parents and two children could receive up to $5,600.
Biden’s initial proposal called for a $115,000 cap — and other plans from lawmakers tossed around “phase outs” as low as $40,000.
“We can’t spend too much. Now’s the time we should be spending. Now’s the time to go big,” Biden said Tuesday night while discussing the size of his proposal.
Where the process goes from here remains to be seen as things could certainly change in the weeks ahead. Many hoped the end of the impeachment trial would mean a focus on relief. However, attention has shifted toward how the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol occurred.
Democratic leaders have said they will take steps to form an independent investigative commission modeled after one that studied security failures before the 9/11 attacks.
The push for stimulus comes amid new signs of a weakening U.S. economy. Employers added just 49,000 jobs in January after cutting 227,000 jobs in December, according to the Labor Department. Restaurants, retailers, manufacturers and even the health care sector shed workers last month, meaning that private employers accounted for a meager gain of 6,000 jobs.
“Between six months and a year-and-a-half we can come back. We can come roaring back,” Biden said on Tuesday night.
The unemployment rate fell to 6.3% from 6.7%, but there was a decline in the number of people who were either working or looking for a job in a sign that some people are dropping out of the labor force. The U.S. economy is 9.9 million jobs shy of its pre-pandemic level.
The Associated Press contributed to this report