The Covid Economy

Critics say Biden's Covid relief plan breaks promise of $2,000 stimulus checks

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U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks as he lays out his plan for combating the coronavirus and jump-starting the nation’s economy at the Queen theater January 14, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

Following the release of President-elect Joe Biden's sweeping coronavirus relief plans, critics are saying he's already reneged on one of his early promises to provide financially-strapped families with $2,000 stimulus checks.

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Biden unveiled the $1.9 trillion package on Thursday that includes an additional $1,400 stimulus payment to many taxpayers and their dependents. The incoming president says the payments will top off the second round of $600 checks which were guaranteed at the end of 2020, bringing the total to $2,000 per person.

"We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most," Biden said during his speech Thursday. "The $600 already appropriated is simply not enough."

But some critics of Biden's new plan, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), say that Democrats need to fulfill their campaign promise and provide full $2,000 payments.

Democrats, including Biden, have largely backed $2,000 checks and made them the center of the recent Georgia runoff elections, in which the two Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, won, handing control of the Senate to their party.

"$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,″ Ocasio-Cortez told the Washington Post.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) also tweeted support for an additional $2,000 check.

However, Biden's plan mirrors a stand-alone bill passed by the House at the end of December, supported by Ocasio-Cortez, that increased the $600 payments to $2,000. The so-called CASH Act passed the Democrat-controlled House with some Republican support, but failed in the Republican-controlled Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) lauded Biden's plan.

"We are pleased the Biden-Harris package includes much of what Congressional Democrats have been fighting for, including an increase in direct payments to $2,000 for American families," the leaders said in a joint statement.

Biden's plan increases enhanced unemployment insurance payments to $400 per week from the current $300 per week, and extends the benefits through September. It also calls on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and provides funding for many other Democratic priorities, including state and local government aid, vaccine rollout, paid medical leave and additional rental assistance.

Check out: $1,400 checks, enhanced unemployment: Here's what's included in Biden's stimulus plan

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