by Maurie Backman | Jan. 24, 2021
The new president wants to roll out more aid quickly, but some lawmakers fear he's going too far.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden revealed the details of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. Known as the American Rescue Plan, the proposal includes extended and boosted unemployment benefits for those who are out of work, enhanced tax credits for parents, and, perhaps most notably, a round of $1,400 stimulus checks.
Americans recently received a second round of stimulus checks after the first round went out under the CARES Act last spring. But those second payments only amounted to $600 apiece. Many lawmakers, Biden included, felt that $600 was inadequate given the number of people who have exhausted their savings and are loading up on debt just to cover their bills.
But while Biden clearly has good intentions when it comes to dishing out relief for the public, his plan is already being met with opposition. In fact, some lawmakers insist his $1.9 trillion price tag is going overboard.
Back when lawmakers spent months trying to negotiate a second stimulus deal to follow the CARES Act, one major sticking point was the price tag of the bill itself. Democrats initially put forth a $3.4 trillion proposal, and Republicans instantly balked at its cost. And while December's relief package only came in at $900 billion ("only" being a relative term, of course), Biden is clearly looking to spend a lot more on aid in the near term.
But so far, there's already pushback from some lawmakers. Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, two members of the bipartisan group who helped put December's stimulus package together, have expressed concerns over the relief bill's hefty price tag. And Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has also been quoted as criticizing Biden's bill. That's a bit more troubling for Biden because he'll likely need the full support of Democrats in the Senate to pass his relief measure.
Some lawmakers have expressed that Biden's proposal is too broad and should instead allow for more targeted aid. In other words, instead of giving out $1,400 stimulus checks to anyone who's previously been eligible, they'd rather see those checks go to those who need it most -- people who are unemployed or who can prove that they've experienced a financial hardship during the pandemic. But sending out stimulus checks on a case-by-case basis could prove to be logistically impossible. In the absence of having a system in place to do that, doling out aid on a wider level may be the only solution.
Of course, there's another option -- cut back on that aid, or don't give out a third stimulus check at all. While the president is committed to providing meaningful assistance during his first 100 days of office, he can't act in a bubble. If lawmakers don't support his new relief package, he and his party will need to rethink its price tag and provisions.
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