Biden Urges Congress to ‘Do Something Big’ to Spur Economy

President Joe Biden on Friday urged Congress to quickly pass his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, saying there are more signs the U.S. economy needs help to counter the effects of the ongoing pandemic. “We are going to be in a situation where it will take a long time” for the economy to fully recover, said Biden during a meeting with House Democratic leaders. “People are really feeling [in] the hole. They don’t know how to get out. You’ve given them a lot of hope. … We have the chance to do something big here.” Biden’s proposal includes new $1,400 stimulus checks for many Americans, as well as additional funding for food and nutrition and an extension on unemployment benefits. The Senate passed a budget resolution early Friday, marking a key step that will allow Democrats to pass a relief package without the threat of a filibuster from opposing Republicans, who say Biden’s relief plan is too expensive. The House passed the resolution later in the day Friday. In this image from Senate TV, Vice President Kamala Harris sits in the chair on the Senate floor to cast the tie-breaking vote, her first, at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 5, 2021.Passage came after a marathon session dubbed “Vote-a-Rama,” in which more than 800 amendments were proposed. Despite the amendments, Biden’s plan remains largely intact. “We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, in a floor speech before voting Thursday. Many Democrats feel the government did not provide enough stimulus during the 2008 recession. The resolution then went to the House of Representatives, where it passed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she hoped the House would send the final package to the Senate in two weeks. Jobs report The U.S. Department of Labor released its monthly jobs report Friday morning, which could bolster the case for the aid package. The report showed the U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs in January, but also revised the number of jobs lost in December to 227,000, up from the 140,000 losses reported in the early January report. The U.S. unemployment rate fell from 6.7% to 6.3% in January. 

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