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Biden unveils $1.9 trillion pandemic response package: ‘We have to act now’

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday outlined his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending package, saying his two-step plan of “rescue and recovery” will “build a bridge to the other side of the crisis we face, to a better, stronger, and more secure America.”

Biden’s America Rescue Plan calls for more than $400 billion to safely reopen most K-8 schools within 100 days and the acceleration and expansion of vaccine deployment. Biden also wants to extend unemployment insurance and nutritional assistance for mothers and young children and get $1,400 direct cash payments “to Americans who need it the most,” he said.

Additionally, Biden’s package extends nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures, giving “25 million Americans greater stability,” and asks Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. “A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s no time to waste,” Biden said. “We have to act, and we have to act now.”

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Next month, Biden said he will ask Congress to make a “historic investment” in infrastructure, manufacturing, research and development, and training. Americans have “a moral obligation” to help each other, Biden said. “We cannot let people go hungry, we cannot let people get evicted, we cannot watch nurses, educators, and others lose their jobs. We so badly need them. We must act now and act decisively.”

Biden declared that it’s time for everyone to pay their fair share of taxes, “without punishing anyone,” and he wants to see tax loopholes closed for companies that ship jobs overseas. “The decisions we make in the next weeks and months will determine whether we thrive in a way that benefits all Americans or we stay stuck in a place where those at the top do great while economic growth for most everyone else is just a spectator sport and American prospects dim, not brighten,” Biden said.