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When will Americans see the aid from Biden's relief proposal? It's up to Congress

When will Americans see the aid from Biden's relief proposal? It's up to Congress

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President-elect Joe Bidens plan comes at a time when the nation needs all the help it can get fighting the coronavirus. More than 4,200 people in the United States died of COVID this past Tuesday, a new daily record high. The president-elects plan includes a national vaccination program, setting up community vaccination sites nationwide, scaling up testing and tracing, investing in high-quality treatments, providing paid sick leave to contain spread of the virus, and addressing health disparities. His proposal suggests investing $20 billion in a national vaccination program. Right now, much of the vaccine rollout has been left to the states, which have struggled to get vaccines into arms at a faster pace because they dont have enough money or people. That people problem could be addressed by a funding emergency hiring for a community health worker program Bidens putting forward, aiming to cover 100,000 public health workers.That would nearly triple the countrys community health workforce."This would be one of the most challenging operational efforts we have ever undertaken as a nation. We'll have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams, to get shots in people's arms, to increase vaccine supply and to get it out the door as fast as possible," Biden said.His team says those people would be hired to work in their local communities doing vaccine outreach and contact tracing short-term and continue in public health roles long-term, especially for low-income and under-served communities.The president-elects proposal also sets aside money for special strike teams to handle long-term care facilities experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, an additional $10 billion in manufacturing pandemic supplies like PPE and researching more treatments, especially for long-haulers. This plan is ambitious. Altogether, this COVID part of Bidens plan would take some $400 billion. For Newsy, Im Lindsey Theis. 

President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion relief package Thursday that included more stimulus payments and other direct aid, but don't expect to see those funds in your bank account anytime soon.

There's a lot that has to happen before Biden's plan — which is chock-full of measures long favored by Democrats — becomes law. And even though Democrats will soon control the White House and both chambers of Congress, that doesn't mean lawmakers will follow Biden's suggestions to the letter.

The earliest the money could start flowing? Maybe mid- to late February, said Kevin Kosar, resident scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and co-editor of the book "Congress Overwhelmed."

Biden's massive plan includes several immediate relief items that are popular with a wide swath of Americans, including sending another $1,400 in direct stimulus payments, extending unemployment benefits and eviction protections, and offering more help for small businesses. It also would boost funding for vaccinations by $20 billion and for coronavirus testing by $50 billion.

But it also calls for making some larger structural changes, such as mandating a $15 hourly minimum wage, expanding Obamacare premium subsidies and broadening tax credits for low-income Americans for a year.

It's the first of two measures Biden has planned to right the nation's economy and fight the coronavirus. He intends to announce a recovery strategy at his first appearance before a joint session of Congress next month.

A president can propose ideas, but Congress passes the laws

Biden's relief proposal now shifts to Congress, where it may change substantially as Democratic leaders transform it into a bill. They must decide whether they want to use a special legislative process called reconciliation, which would require only a simple majority of votes to pass the Senate — eliminating the need for Republican support — but would limit the provisions that could be included. Also, reconciliation also be used only sparingly each year.

Another factor that could determine the path and speed at which lawmakers act is the health of the economy, said John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. If the nation's jobs report in early February shows a continued deterioration of the labor market, for instance, Congress may be spurred to move faster and approve more assistance.

Whatever leaders decide, the effort is expected to have an easier time passing in the House — which approved a $3 trillion relief package last May that contained measures similar to those in Biden's plan — even though Democrats now hold a slimmer majority there.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, will have to maintain the support of nearly all of her party's members, including some progressive lawmakers who have already said they want to send even more help to Americans in need.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told The Washington Post on Thursday that people should get an additional $2,000 in stimulus checks on top of the $600 they received as part of the $900 billion relief package lawmakers passed last month — more than the $1,400 top-off payment Biden is suggesting.

A narrow margin in the Senate will mean compromises

The Senate is where a multitude of hurdles lie. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York will soon take over as majority leader from Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, but the chamber will be split 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris available to break any tie votes.

In coming weeks, senators will have their hands full with President Donald Trump's impeachment trial and with voting on the President-elect's Cabinet nominees, none of whom have been confirmed yet.

In his speech Thursday night, Biden said he would like to work with members of both parties to enact his American Rescue Plan, indicating that he wants to go the traditional route, which would require the backing of at least 10 Republican senators.

Biden will play an important role in the negotiations on Capitol Hill.

"A new president and a new tone from the White House can put some pretty significant pressure when pressure is needed," Hudak said. "For this to happen in some expedited time, it's really going to require significant influence from the president, especially on key senators."

One of those senators is Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia. He has recently expressed doubts over providing $2,000 in stimulus payments, preferring a more targeted approach.

"I'm on board by helping people that need help, people that really can't make it, people that don't have a job," Manchin told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday. "Sending checks to people that basically already have a check and aren't going to be able to spend that or are not going to spend it — usually are putting it in their savings account right now — that's not who we are."

Securing support can be a laborious process.

"All the work of getting people lined up — that's likely going to take a lot of time," Kosar said.

Here's what's in Biden's $1.9T coronavirus rescue plan

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Scaling down his “build back better” plans, President Joe Biden on Tuesday described a more limited vision to Democratic lawmakers of a $2 trillion government-overhaul package with at least $500 billion to tackle climate change and money for middle-class priorities — child tax credits, paid family leave, health care and free pre-kindergarten.

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