Joe Biden backs COVID-19 relief deal, says it’s ‘just the beginning’

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President-elect Biden applauded lawmakers for coming together and pushing forward with a compromise Covid relief package, but warned that it was “just the beginning.”

In a statement released Sunday, upon the announcement of a deal being reached on a measure to be passed alongside a $1.4 trillion government funding bill, the incoming commander-in-chief cheered the efforts of the much divided House and Senate.

“In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for action and compromise. I am heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. This is a model for the challenging work ahead for our nation,” Biden said.

Still, he argued, “this action in the lame duck session is just the beginning. Our work is far from over.”

“Immediately, starting in the new year, Congress will need to get to work on support for our COVID-19 plan, for support to struggling families, and investments in jobs and economic recovery. There will be no time to waste,” he continued.

Biden’s statement echoes his earlier stance on the $900 billion package, which establishes a temporary $300 per week supplement to jobless benefits and includes $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans.

In March, Congress passed a $2.2 trillion relief package which included $1,200 direct payments to most Americans.

The compromise bill, meanwhile, provides more subsidies for businesses, more funds for schools and health-care providers, and eviction protection for renters.

Without action by Congress, millions of Americans out of work as a result of the coronavirus, which has killed over 318,000 people in the US and shattered the global economy, would have lost unemployment benefits on Dec. 26.

For months, Congress remained at a standstill over the next round of legislation. Talks were revived by a bipartisan group of senators and House lawmakers after the 2020 election.

Eventually, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), along with fellow members of House and Senate leadership, pledged that the bodies would not break for Christmas without the package being pushed through.

The legislation even earned the approval of the White House, with President Trump supporting higher direct payments than the agreed upon $600.

Asked about the bill during an appearance earlier this month on CNN, after talks had restarted, the incoming president called the bill “a good start,” but “it’s not enough.”

“I think it should be passed. I’m going to ask for more … when we get there to get things done,” he added.

With Post wires

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