“Let me ask them: What would they have me cut? What would they have me leave out?” Biden asked. “Should we not invest $20 billion to vaccinate the nation? Should we not invest $290 (billion) to extend unemployment insurance for the 11 million Americans who are unemployed so they can get by while they get back to work? Should we not invest $50 billion to help small businesses stay open, when tens of thousands have had to close permanently? … Should we not invest $130 (billion) to help schools across the nation open safely?”
With many parents focused on how to get their children back to in-person classes, Biden and his aides have highlighted the nearly $130 billion that the plan would provide to K-12 schools to help them pay for safety modifications that the administration hopes will allow more schools to reopen.
“If you were to ask me what the major economic crisis in this country is today — it’s not just unemployment. It is the fact that half of our workers are living paycheck to paycheck, and millions of people are working for starvation wages,” Sanders told Blitzer. “You cannot survive in any state in this country on 8 or 9 bucks an hour. You certainly cannot raise your kids on those wages.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters last week that the current economic conditions and makeup of the Senate have created “our best opportunity” and “the right moment” to pass their long-held goal of increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
In a preview of the arguments Republicans will make this week, GOP leaders in the House have already begun urging their members to vote against the bill, calling it the “Payoff to Progressives Act.” In an email to members Friday obtained by CNN, the office of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, argued that Democrats have rushed the legislation to the floor — and said it will “bail out blue states” while “paying people not to work.”
Scalise’s office characterized the bill as the embodiment of a “liberal wish list.”
Biden is looking to overcome those Republican objections by continuing to appeal directly to the American people this week. And Republicans’ objections over the next week carry some risk, given the popularity of the legislation.
Speaking in Michigan on Friday, Biden said he was open to ideas about how to “make the package better and make it cheaper.”
“My hope is that the Republicans in Congress listen to their constituents,” he said. Americans, he added, “want us to act, and act big and quickly and support the plan.”