By Mary Rose Corkery
President Joe Biden said Friday that the American economy won’t recover “until we beat this virus.”
“I got a letter from more than 400 mayors from big cities and small towns. They understand we’re not gonna get our economy back in shape and the millions of people back to work until we beat this virus,” Biden said during a visit to a Pfizer facility in Michigan that manufactures coronavirus vaccines.
Biden has urged Congress to approve his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan as soon as possible. The plan would give direct stimulus payments towards certain Americans and includes additional economic aid.
The plan also includes $160 billion for COVID-19 testing and tracing, vaccine manufacturing and distribution — “everything that is needed to get vaccines into people’s arms, which is the most difficult logistical effort the United States has ever undertaken in peace time,” Biden said.
The president said he has met with Democratic and Republican officials from all of the states, both in the oval office and virtually, and said “they agree we have to act now.”
The president also said should Congress not approve the plan, “40 million Americans will lose nutritional assistance through a program called SNAP, the old food stamp program.”
“Do we not invest three million dollars, three billion dollars, to keep families from going hungry?” Biden asked. “One in five Americans are behind in their rent. One in ten are behind in their mortgage. How many people do you know that will go to bed tonight staring at the ceiling and say God what is going to happen if I don’t get my job if I don’t have my unemployment check.”
“This is the United States of America for God’s sake. We invest in people who are in need. Do we not invest 35 billion dollars to help people keep a roof over their heads?” Biden said.
Biden expressed his gratitude that Congress is moving fast and said he’s willing to listen to “their ideas on how to make the package better and make it cheaper.”
“I’m open to that. But we have to make clear who is helped and who is hurt,” Biden said.
Biden said he’s hopeful that Congressional Republicans pay attention to polls saying that a bipartisan majority of Americans, “including the majority of Republicans, want us to act and act big and quickly in support the plan.”
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