Politics

Biden says $ 1,200 stimulus checks should still be in play in Covid aid talks

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday that another round of coronavirus stimulus checks for US families "may still be in the game".

"I think it would be better if they had the $ 1,200 [payments to families]," Biden said when asked at a press conference to respond to criticism of a new Covid relief plan being launched this week the final round of negotiations was unveiled on Capitol Hill.

Biden added, "And I understand that this may still be in the game. But I won't comment on the specific details. The whole purpose is that we have to make sure that people don't get kicked out of their apartments, lose their homes, can get unemployment insurance so they can continue to support their families if we let the economy grow again. "

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., And Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer, D-NY have a $ 908 billion bipartisan relief plan to start talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell , R-Ky, supported.

On Friday, Pelosi told reporters "there is a dynamic" towards lawmakers hitting a deal.

Biden has endorsed the plan as a "good start" but has promised to press for further help when his administration takes over. At the press conference, Biden wouldn't say whether he spoke to McConnell.

The proposal doesn't include a second direct payment of $ 1,200 to most Americans. Pelosi and Schumer have been calling for another stimulus check for months as part of the trillion relief supplies they wanted to approve.

When the Democratic leaders gave in and asked to open talks on the $ 908 billion measure, they stated that "we and others will offer improvements."

Some Congressional progressives have questioned how much relief a bill would bring if it didn't include direct payments or a solid unemployment insurance supplement. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Said he would only endorse a bill if it contained a stimulus check or scrapped Republican claims for a liability shield, according to NBC News.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Told NBC News she was open to support the package. Nevertheless, she criticized a lack of direct payments.

The bipartisan plan provides funding for a second round of the small business paycheck protection program, as well as relief for state and local governments that may have to cut essential services and money for schools. It also includes money for the transportation and distribution of vaccines.

Skeptics like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez fear that they won't put enough money straight into Americans' pockets. While it grants a weekly unemployment benefit of $ 300 per week, the amount is half the weekly $ 600 allowance passed by Congress in March. The provision expired in July.

Biden previously approved a much larger relief bill that the House passed earlier this year. At the press conference on Friday, he stated that the $ 908 billion proposal is "just a down payment."

Nonetheless, Biden signaled a willingness to compromise and said he was confident that the congressional stalemate would lead to an agreement in time to "keep us from straying from the sidelines".

"If you insist on everything, you probably won't get anything on either side," said Biden.

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