Biden urges Congress for swift COVID aid deal
President-elect Joe Biden urged Congress to strike a swift deal on COVID-19 aid on Friday, but said aid will be a long-term prospect as the country battles the pandemic.
Speaking after a weaker than expected November employment reportBiden said the “gloomy” data showed a stalled economy but “it must not stay that way if we act now.”
“Americans need help and they need it now,” said the Democratic president-elect.
Biden spoke in Wilmington, Delaware, as negotiations intensified on Capitol Hill over a new coronavirus relief program. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Californian Democrat, said on Friday there was “momentum” in the talks, after speaking Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky.
Even if lawmakers pass an aid package during the lame session of Congress, Biden said, that won’t be enough. He said he aimed to deliver hundreds of billions in relief.
Biden was asked if he had spoken with McConnell but avoided such questions.
This week, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said an aid package of around $ 900 billion should be the basis for negotiations. Democrats ahead of the election insisted on a package worth more than $ 2 trillion, a size that McConnell rejected. The Kentucky lawmaker proposed a smaller package.
Sticking points between Democrats and Republicans over a COVID deal include the size of state aid and liability protections for business and others. McConnell pushed for these protections but some Democrats want to limit them.
SPX American Stock Indices,
close at new records Friday after the jobs report showed fewer jobs were created in November than economists estimated, possibly strengthen the case for further congressional fiscal stimulus.