Biden: $1,200 Stimulus Checks 'May Be Still in Play' in Coronavirus Relief Talks
By Madz D.
Democrat Joe Biden said that another round of stimulus checks for American families "may be still in play."
According to Fortune, Biden's statement came after a Friday announcement that the U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November and pushed the unemployment rate from 6.9 percent in October to 6.7 percent.
The rate was far lower than the 440,000 jobs economists assumed, signifying that the economic recovery has stalled.
Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said that we need to "step up now" as the future will bleak if we don't act. In a press conference, he told reporters that it would be better if families would receive $1,200 stimulus payments, as per CNBC.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed that the $900 billion compromise coronavirus stimulus bill could be the start for negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans, who have been at an impasse since summer due to the economic relief bill amount's size. Biden said he was "encouraged" by the Senate bipartisan effort.
According to the Washington Post, the new bipartisan bill would "set aside $180 billion to provide weekly $300 enhanced unemployment benefits." The enhanced unemployment benefits replaced the weekly $600 unemployment benefits, which expired in late July.
Biden was asked about the reports that progressive Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders want to see direct payments as part of the bill.
He replied: "It would be better if they had the $1200 stimulus checks, that may be still in play... But, I'm not going to comment on the specific details."
He added that the whole purpose of this is to make sure people aren't thrown out of their apartments, lose their homes, and have unemployment insurance so they can continue to feed their families "as we grow back the economy."
Biden noted that he had lots of experience negotiating between the two parties and is confident that an agreement could be reached. But many onlookers are highly skeptical that Republicans would be on board with the direct payments.
CNBC reported that Biden endorsed the plan as a "good start." However, he promised to push for more COVID-19 relief aid when his administration takes charge. Biden did not mention at the press conference if he already spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
For months, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer have called for another stimulus check as part of the COVID-19 relief package they hoped to approve. But the proposal does not include the second round of $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans.
The Democratic leaders noted that "we and others will offer improvements" when they yielded ground and urged to start discussions on the $908 billion measure.
Some lawmakers questioned the amount of the relief bill that would help if it fails to include direct payments or a substantial unemployment benefit.
Sanders said he would not support the bill unless it consists of the next round of stimulus checks or scrapped Republican demands for the liability shield, as per NBC News.
Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez told NBC News that she is willing to support the package. Yet, she criticized the lack of direct payments.
The bipartisan plan includes relief for state and local governments and funding for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program small business loans. It also provides money for vaccine distribution.