White House holds briefing as Biden pushes virus relief


WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — White House press secretary Jen Psaki held a briefing Wednesday on the heels of President Joe Biden panning a Republican alternative to his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan as insufficient.

It comes as the White House reaches for a bipartisan relief bill, while Democrats have taken the first step to begin the lengthy process for approving Biden’s bill with or without GOP support. The goal is to have COVID-19 relief approved by March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires.

Psaki said Biden joined the House Democratic Caucus by phone Wednesday to discuss COVID-19 relief efforts.

“The president made clear the American Rescue Plan was designed to meet the stakes of the public health and economic crisis. The president and caucus agreed that a final package must address the crises facing working families. Including house and food insecurity and reopening schools,” Psaki said.

Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday he’s “not married” to an absolute number on his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan but Congress needs to “act fast” on relief for the pandemic and the economic crisis.

Biden also said he doesn’t want to budge from his proposed $1,400 in direct payments to Americans.

“Look, we got a lot of people hurting in our country today,” Biden said. “We need to act. We need to act fast. We need to restore the soul of the country.”

Biden’s specific remarks to the Democratic caucus were relayed by two people who requested anonymity to discuss the private conference call.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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