Biden Says Republicans Are Unwilling to Compromise on Covid Relief

Date: 2021-02-05 17:56:30

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President Joe Biden said the U.S. economy is “still in trouble” and that Republicans are unwilling to support the magnitude of government assistance that’s needed to address the crisis.

Biden said he sees “a lot of folks reaching the breaking point,” in remarks Friday at the White House Friday. “I am going to act and I am going to act fast,” he said, highlighting a weaker than expected jobs report released earlier in the day. He said it’s an “easy choice” to opt for speed over lengthy legislative negotiations.

Private-sector payrolls barely grew in January, while the restaurant and lodging sector logged almost 600,000 in job losses over the past two months, the Labor Department reported Friday. While the jobless rate dipped to 6.3%, that was partly because some Americans gave up looking for work.

With total employment down almost 10 million compared with the pre-pandemic peak, Biden reinforced his call for a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill. That proposal took a major step forward with an early morning vote in the Senate along party lines that showcased the Democrats’ ability to proceed on a bill without Republican support.

“We can fix it,” Biden said of the damage to American households from the coronavirus earlier Friday, ahead of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chairs of key House committees working to draft the rescue plan.

Pelosi will need to hold her caucus together amid calls from moderates to split off vaccine funding, which has bipartisan support.

Biden’s plan is second in size only to the $2 trillion Cares Act approved last March, when the first blow from Covid-19 walloped both the nation’s economy and financial markets. The price tag of the new package has spurred opposition from Republicans, with even some Democrats warning that it could limit the space to maneuver on other priorities later in the year.

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