White House adviser expects coronavirus relief to pass within weeks

Politics

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — It’s been a week of significant progress in the fight against COVID-19, with President Biden announcing vaccines will be available to all American adults by the end of May.

Now his team is also focusing on another goal: passing the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan,” which has new urgency as unemployment benefits are set to expire on March 14.

A key figure in that push is Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to President Biden. While Richmond acknowledges the relief bill will likely go through more changes in the Senate, he says he believes support for the plan goes beyond the Democratic party.

“One thing we do know is the American people, 70% of the American people support this bill as-is at $1.9 trillion, almost 60% of Republicans support this bill as-is,” Richmond said, referencing a recent bipartisan opinion poll by Morning Consult/Politico.

Earlier Wednesday, Senate Democrats reached a deal to trim the COVID-19 relief package which would block Americans earning $80,000 per year or more and couples earning $160,000 or more from receiving the $1,400 stimulus check payments.

Moderate Democrats pushed for the reduction as Republicans continue to criticize the overall size of the measure.

“The truth is every senator is a must-have on the Democratic side, especially when you’re doing something so big,” Richmond said. “Those members that have concerns and are expressing they need changes made, they do have some power.”

Richmond said they hope to pass the latest version of the bill in the next “couple of weeks” while expecting the measure to remain largely intact. Their goal is to get it passed before the “cliff” of March 15, which would be the end of unemployment insurance as well as the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums.

“For us, it’s just important to get this done, get it done quickly because we know that American families are suffering right now and we want to provide them with relief as soon as possible,” Richmond said.

After states like Texas and Mississippi announced plans to drop coronavirus restrictions and reopen more this week, President Biden called such plans “Neanderthal thinking” Wednesday.

Richmond said in addition to ramping up vaccination efforts and working to reopen schools, the administration has been very focused on decreasing the number of infections by getting all Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days of their administration.

“We know what beating COVID looks like,” Richmond said. “This White House spends an enormous amount of time every day, all day to make sure we’re beating COVID-19 and protecting families, but we just think that is the absolutely wrong way to go at the wrong time.”

As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faces allegations of sexual harassment, some are asking why he seems to be receiving different treatment than other public figures who were encouraged to leave office after facing similar claims.

Richmond said the planned independent investigation into the matter should move forward.

“The important part is making sure that every allegation is taken credibly and that people listen and that people hear the victims,” Richmond said.

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