by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on Nov. 12, 2020
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Joe Biden wants lawmakers to act now on coronavirus stimulus instead of waiting until he takes office.
Since former Vice President Joe Biden was elected to be the next president of the United States, there's been speculation about whether lawmakers would act quickly to pass more coronavirus relief. The question is whether a bill could be passed during the "lame duck" session or whether Americans would have to wait until Biden takes office in January to get more COVID-19 money.
Now, the president-elect has spoken out to urge lawmakers not to wait for him.
Instead, Biden has made it clear he believes coronavirus stimulus cannot wait. He wants those who are currently in office to move swiftly to provide the financial help the American public needs.
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Since the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) at the end of March, negotiations have been underway to pass another COVID-19 bill. However, thus far, lawmakers have been unable to reach consensus. Republicans and Democrats are far apart on key issues including the cost of any subsequent legislation as well as how much money to provide the unemployed or offer states coping with revenue losses.
The Democrats, by and large, have been holding out for a bill valued at $2.2 trillion or higher. Indeed, the HEROES Act they initially passed had a price tag of more than $3 trillion -- although the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives recently passed a scaled-down version of that bill. Earlier this year, Biden agreed with members of his party on the need for large-scale relief, saying the next bill should be "a hell of a lot bigger," than the $2.2 trillion in aid the CARES Act had provided.
However, Biden has now made it clear he doesn't want lawmakers to wait until he's in office to pass stimulus relief. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the president-elect said, "One of the urgent things that need to be done is people need relief right now -- right now."
Biden went on to list the targets for immediate aid including, "Small businesses, people who are about to be evicted from their homes because they can't pay their mortgage, unemployment insurance." He cautioned that failure to provide financial help could have devastating consequences including the layoffs of first responders.
The future president said he's made his position on the need for immediate stimulus money clear to leaders on the left. He says both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer "know his views." And, with regards to President Donald Trump, Biden said, "I would hope the president at least has the sensitivity and knowledge to know a lot of people are in real trouble right now -- between now and the time we get sworn in."
But while the president-elect may prefer swift action, it could still be difficult to pass coronavirus relief legislation before the end of the year. The fact is, the issues that have prevented the passage of a COVID-19 stimulus bill remain unresolved. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday, "It seems to me that snag that hung us up for months is still there."
McConnell reiterated that the Republicans are unwilling to pass a multi-trillion dollar relief bill. He affirmed that lawmakers on the right would sign on only to a smaller-scale package similar to the plans they unveiled earlier this year. Democrats rejected those proposals as being insufficient. With neither the left nor the right appearing to give ground on their long-held positions, there's no reason to believe Biden's pleas will make much difference.
In fact, a divided government may make it difficult for a stimulus package to pass after the inauguration as well. Republicans are in a strong position to keep the Senate next year while Democrats will hold the House of Representatives and take the presidency. Americans simply can't count on getting more money in their bank accounts from Washington D.C., and should make certain they're taking other steps to shore up their financial situations.
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