Biden warns of growing cost of delay on economic coronavirus aid plan

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By Euronews  with AP
President Joe Biden speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.
President Joe Biden speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Evan Vucci

US President Joe Biden warned of the costs of further delaying passing an economic aid plan to help Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newly inaugurated American president has had a hard time getting support for his $1.9 trillion (€1.6 trillion) COVID-19 relief plan from opposition Republicans.

"I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it," Biden told reporters. "But the COVID relief has to pass. No ifs, ands or buts."

The US Congress already approved $4 trillion (€3.3 trillion) in aid, including $900 billion (€740 billion) last month.

But there is some criticism that it's unclear what the massive legislation would accomplish and if it would help to speed along vaccination.

The US has vaccinated more than 27 million people so far but faces a severe epidemic with rising infections and mounting deaths. There have been more than 25.9 million COVID infections and over 437,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden recognised the importance of speaking directly to people about his economic plan. They are relying on television interviews and calls with local officials.

“We’re taking a number of creative steps, a little outside of the box,” Psaki said. “Certainly, his preference would be to get on a plane and fly around the country.”

The plan allots $400 billion (€329.5 billion) to spearhead a vaccination program and the reopening of schools.

It also includes $1,400 (€1150) in direct payments to individuals, which critics say should be more targeted.

They also hope to raise the minimum wage to $15 (€12.3) and give aid to state and local governments.

In his first week in office, Biden has relied on executive orders to roll back the policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump. The economic relief plan would be his first major piece of legislation since taking office.