Biden unveils $1.9tn US economic relief package

Biden unveils $1.9tn US economic relief package

President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9tn (£1.4tn) stimulus plan for the coronavirus-sapped US economy before he takes office next week.

If passed by Congress, it would include $1tn for households, with direct payments of $1,400 to all Americans.

The relief proposal includes $415bn to bolster the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and $440bn for small businesses.

Mr Biden, a Democrat, has promised to beat the virus that has so far killed more than 385,000 people in the US.

He campaigned last year vowing to do a better job handling the pandemic than President Donald Trump, a Republican.

In a primetime speech on Thursday night from his home town of Wilmington, Delaware he said: “It’s not hard to see that we’re in the middle of a once-in-several-generations economic crisis with a once-in-several-generations public health crisis.

“A crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight and there’s no time to waste. We have to act and we have to act now.”

The proposal for $1,400 direct payments to Americans would come on top of $600 payments in a relief bill that Mr Trump signed last month.

Mr Biden’s proposal comes as a winter surge of the virus breaks records, bringing well over 200,000 new cases each day in the US.

Jobless claims have now risen to their highest weekly total since August and over 18 million people remain unemployed across the country.

The initial weeks of Mr Biden’s term will take place against the backdrop of a US Senate impeachment trial for his predecessor.

It is unclear how quickly the Senate will proceed – or whether it will vote to convict President Trump – but it is expected to distract from the new Biden administration’s agenda.

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