Roughly a week before Biden was sworn in as president, he unveiled a $1.9 trillion relief package that would provide billions of dollars of aid for small businesses, coronavirus testing, and vaccine distribution.
Additionally, it would send out more direct payments to Americans and includes a provision that would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
However, in order to pass his package, Biden would need Republican support in the Senate.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters, “I suspect the whole package is a non-starter.”
Still, he noted that there were some elements of the bill that Republicans might support, “It’s got plenty of starters in it, and a lot of them are things that we proposed in terms of more assistance to the states. I think we’re ready to look at what it takes to move forward as effectively and quickly as we can on vaccine distribution, on securing what we need for the future in terms of [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].”
“There are some things in there that aren’t going to happen, and there are some things that can happen,” he added.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) noted that Congress passed a $900 billion relief bill at the end of December 2020 and said the announcement of Biden’s proposal was “not well-timed.”
“Let’s give that some time to be able to influence the economy,” he added.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) also criticized the bill, as IJR reported. In a statement, he said, “In less than one year, Congress has spent $3.4 trillion on direct COVID relief aid and nearly doubled the entire federal budget.”
“Blasting out another $2 trillion in borrowed or printed money – when the ink on December’s $1 trillion aid bill is barely dry, and much of the money is not yet spent – would be a colossal waste and economically harmful,” he added.
While Congress was negotiating the last relief package, Biden made clear he believes that more aid is needed as he told reporters, “The stimulus package is encouraging. It looks like they are very, very close, and it looks like there’s going to be direct cash payments.”
“But it’s a down payment, an important down payment on what’s going to have to be done beginning the end of January into February, but it’s very important it gets done,” he added.
Biden’s Treasury Secretary nominee, Janet Yellen, urged lawmakers during her confirmation to “act big” on another relief bill.
“I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time,” she added.