Biden to call for $1,400 checks, more vaccine funds in Thursday speech
President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday evening will unveil his coronavirus relief plan, a sweeping measure expected to include cash payments to Americans and money for distributing COVID-19 vaccines.
Biden plans to detail his proposals in Wilmington, Del., at 7:15 p.m. Eastern, less than a week before being inaugurated as president, and a day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump for a historic second time.
Biden has said the plan will be “in the trillions of dollars,” an injection he says the U.S. economy needs to combat the economic fallout from the pandemic.
CNN said early Thursday that the president-elect would propose a spending increase of roughly $2 trillion, in a report that helped to send the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, 1.131% higher on the prospect of even larger fiscal deficits and increased debt issuance. U.S. stocks SPX, -0.38% DJIA, -0.22% closed with modest loss ahead of the evening speech, after trading in the green for most of Thursday’s session.
Other published reports put the price tag at $1.9 million and predicted that Biden would call for increasing direct payments to $2,000 from the $600 already hitting bank accounts, meaning stimulus checks of $1,400 would go out. The president-elect Biden said just before the Democratic wins in Georgia’s Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections that victories would lead to the bigger payments.
The incoming administration “will outline his vaccination and economic rescue legislative package to fund vaccinations and provide immediate, direct relief to working families and communities bearing the brunt of this crisis and call on both parties in Congress to move his proposals quickly,” the Biden-Harris transition said in a statement.
“The contours of the package will include direct payments,
vaccine distribution funding, state and local aid, and unemployment benefits,
among other policies in our opinion,” said analysts at Height Capital Markets
in a note.
Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated on Jan. 20 but the new president may face a challenge in moving quickly with his legislative agenda if the Senate is consumed with an impeachment trial of Trump.
Earlier this week, Biden said he’d asked if the Senate could “bifurcate” its schedule to deal with impeachment and his agenda simultaneously.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the incoming majority leader, said in an interview published Monday that the chamber can work on both issues at the same time.
“We’re going to have to do several things at once but we got to move the agenda as well,” Schumer told the Buffalo News.
Biden will roll out his plan as the tally of U.S. COVID-19 cases topped 23 million, and the latest Labor Department data showed jobless claims surging to a five-month high as more workers lost jobs due to business closures and restrictions to combat the pandemic’s winter resurgence.
As part of his plan to fight the pandemic, Biden says he
will release available doses of vaccines after coming into office on Jan. 20,
instead of keeping some in reserve for second doses.
Beacon Policy Advisors analysts said that while they believe Biden will try to advance a coronavirus package on a bipartisan basis, they expect pressure on the president-elect to use a process known as budget reconciliation to push through new aid. Budget reconciliation is a procedure allowing legislation to be passed using a simple rather than two-thirds majority in the Senate.
“Ultimately we expect congressional Democrats, led by Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), to convince Biden that the only practical route to achieve the level of assistance that Democrats believe is necessary is via the reconciliation process that only requires a simple majority in the Senate, thus allowing Democrats to pass the legislation on their own — if they can reach unanimous agreement on its specifics among themselves,” Beacon analysts said in a note.
MarketWatch’s Victor Reklaitis contributed to this report.