WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As the nation mourns the lives lost to the coronavirus pandemic, President Joe Biden is urging Congress to get his COVID-19 relief package across the finish line.
From the White House, Biden marked the grim milestone of 500,000 deaths in the United States from COVID-19.
“These people were extraordinary,” Biden said. “As a nation we can’t accept such a cruel fate.”
Biden is pushing to get his $1.9-trillion American Rescue Plan across the finish line to help ease the fallout of the pandemic.
“We have to fight this together. As one people. As the United States of America,” the president said.
The relief package includes $1,400 stimulus checks, an increase to minimum wage, money for schools and more.
“If we pass my American Rescue Plan, the economy will create seven million jobs this year,” Biden said.
The president’s team says this is what the country needs.
“The key components of this bill are addressing the crisis we’re facing,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
However, Republicans like Congressman Jason Smith (R-Mo.), say another large relief package will lead to a heavier burden for Americans.
“I’m not trying to kill your legislation,” Smith said.
Smith says the president needs to share how much stimulus from prior relief bills is left over.
“[Need to check how much is left over] before we use hard-working American taxpayer dollars to spend another $1.9 trillion in stimulus funding,” Smith said.
In the meantime, the Biden administration is tackling the crisis one step at a time.
“While the pandemic is heading in the right direction, there is still much work to do,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.
Biden says he wants to hear input from the House and the Senate to make the plan better.