US president-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to tackle the economic fallout from the pandemic, including direct financial aid to average Americans, support to businesses and to provide a boost to the national vaccination programme.
The relief package, announced on Thursday, includes $415 billion focused on combating the COVID-19 pandemic, over $1 trillion in direct aid to individuals and families and $440 billion in assistance to businesses.
It includes $1,400 in additional stimulus cheques to Americans, an extension for key unemployment programmes from mid-March to the end of September and an increase in weekly additional unemployment assistance from $300 to $400 and increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over time.
Biden’s proposal also sets aside $20 billion for a national vaccination programme and $50 billion to scale up coronavirus testing.
The US is the worst affected country from the pandemic with 23,308,712 people hit with the coronavirus, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus tracker.
Some 18 million Americans are still relying on unemployment insurance and some 400,000 small businesses have permanently closed their doors.
Announcing details of the American Rescue Plan, he said this will tackle the pandemic and get direct financial assistance and relief to Americans who need it the most.
Biden said that in the first appearance before a Joint Session of Congress, he will lay out a Build Back Better Recovery Plan.
It will make historic investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, innovation, research and development, and clean energy. Investments in the caregiving economy and in skills and training needed by our workers to compete and win the global economy of the future, Biden said.
As we work to keep people from going hungry, we will also work to keep a roof over their heads to stem the growing housing crisis in America. Approximately 14 million Americans have fallen behind on rent, many at risk of eviction, he said.
President Donald Trump signed a $900 billion relief bill last month, which included supplemental unemployment benefits extended to mid-March.