Here's what President-elect Joe Biden wants to include in a coronavirus stimulus bill
President-elect Joe Biden wasted little time laying out how he plans to tackle the coronavirus and aid economic recovery, among other priorities, on day one of his administration.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have already named their coronavirus task force, promised to significantly increase testing and plan to use the Defense Production Act to make more protective equipment for frontline workers. The U.S. reported an average of more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per day over the past week.
Still, it may be difficult to get a divided Congress to agree to another stimulus package as they have been unable to pass anything for months. It is possible that Democrats could take control of the Senate when Georgia hosts a runoff election for two seats in January, potentially making it easier to pass a bill.
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Even so, that wouldn't happen until after inauguration day on January 20, 2021. In the meantime, millions of people could lose unemployment benefits altogether by December 31, 2020 and housing advocates warn about an impending eviction crisis if more relief isn't made available.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week he wants a package passed before the end of the year, but it's not clear what consensus could be reached by then, especially with a lame duck president.
With all of those question marks in mind, here are some of the economic policies Biden is advocating for in response to the coronavirus pandemic:
Extend enhanced unemployment insurance
On his campaign website, Biden said he will work with Congress to extend the extra $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits that expired at the end of July for "however long this crisis lasts."
Increase Social Security payments
The president-elect has proposed increasing Social Security checks — including for veterans and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries — by $200 per month, as proposed by Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
"A simple benefit increase like this will improve the lives of millions of Americans and help our economy stabilize and recover," the Senators wrote in an Op-Ed for CNBC in March.
Make Covid-19 medical treatment free
Biden has advocated making all testing and treatment for Covid-19 free for everyone, including any possible vaccines.
He has also said the federal government should pay for 100% of the cost of COBRA insurance for people who lose their jobs during the pandemic for the period they are eligible. He would also reopen enrollment for Affordable Care Act plans and provide premium subsidies for those who do not have employer-based coverage.
Paid sick leave
Biden has proposed making emergency paid sick leave available to everyone, including part-time workers, gig workers and independent contractors.
Additional economic impact payments for families will be sent "should conditions require," according to Biden's campaign website. It is unclear how much they would be worth or who would be eligible.
Student loan forgiveness
Biden has endorsed Warren's plan to forgive a minimum of $10,000 per person in federal student loan debt.
"Young people and other student debt holders bore the brunt of the last crisis," reads the site. "It shouldn't happen again."
He has also advocated for premium pay for essential workers, more money for state and local governments, relief for small businesses and halting evictions and foreclosures for the duration of the crisis. But again, it is unclear what exactly a divided Congress would agree to pass.
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