“We won’t wait,” Biden is pushing US Congress to $ 1.9 trillion for Reuters COVID-19 reduction

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Drive-through sales at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in West Covina

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By Susan Cornwell and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden government and Democratic and Republican lawmakers discussing $ 1.9 trillion new coronavirus aid agreed on Sunday that making and efficiently distributing a vaccine was the most important Should be priority.

An adviser to a Democrat who spoke to Brian Deese, one of President Joe Biden’s key economic advisers, said the discussion had been “robust” and the two sides would continue to work together.

Deese, director of the National Economic Council, had announced that as part of a push by the Biden government, he would receive a call to the senators to advocate a major rescue plan.

“We can’t wait,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters before the call. “Just because Washington has been stalled before doesn’t mean it has to remain stalled.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 417,000 Americans, made millions of people jobless, and infects more than 175,000 Americans every day, creating an immediate crisis for the Biden government. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)

Biden, who took office on Wednesday, campaigned for a promise to take aggressive action against the pandemic, which his predecessor, President Donald Trump, had often downplayed.

The Trump administration fell far short of its target of 20 million Americans vaccinated by the end of 2020. There was no plan for how the vaccine would be distributed to millions of Americans when Biden took over, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Sunday.

While Congress has already approved $ 4 trillion to respond, the White House says an additional $ 1.9 trillion will be needed to meet the cost of responding to the virus and improving unemployment and household benefits Offer payments.

The Democratic adviser said “everyone agreed” on the call, which included some House members and senators, that the greatest need is to quickly manufacture the vaccine nationally and distribute it efficiently.

“NATIONAL EMERGENCY”

“The bottom line is: we are in a national emergency and must act as if we were in a national emergency,” said Biden on Friday before signing executive orders for economic relief.

Although Biden’s Democratic Party tightly controls the House and Senate, the legislation is likely to require bipartisan support to become law.

“There has been a solid discussion and this bipartisan group will continue to work together to discuss a path for another aid package,” said the Democratic adviser.

Some Republicans have resisted the price.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney said he would listen to the White House but told Fox News Sunday before the call that the $ 1.9 trillion figure was “shocking.”

“Spending and borrowing trillions of dollars from the Chinese, among others, is not necessarily the best we can do to make our economy strong over the long term,” said Romney.

Chuck Schumer, majority leader in the Democratic Senate, admitted that some Republicans’ comments had not been positive.

He hoped they would see the need after the call on Sunday.

“But if not, there are tools with which we can develop ourselves. And we will,” Schumer told reporters in New York. He said these included a process that would allow important laws to be passed by the Senate by simple majority.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin said he hoped to be non-partisan. “The object is trying to find out if there is any area of ​​agreement that we can move into on this bailout,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Biden said a top priority is unifying a divided country. Trump’s tenure ended with his second parliamentary impeachment after supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to fatally overcome his election loss.

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