President-elect Joe Biden thinks he will get cooperation from Congress on further COVID-19 assistance in 2021 because of the need to end the current “nightmare.”
“I don’t think it’s a honeymoon at all. I think it’s a nightmare that everybody’s going through, and they all say it’s got to end,” Biden said. “It’s not a honeymoon. They’re not doing me a favor.”
The president-elect praised Congress for coming together to clear a belated COVID-19 response package but reiterated his belief that more funding will be needed early next year.
“I’m not going to be a lame duck, just watch me,” Biden said Tuesday on the familiar stage at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, where Biden has held many of his campaign and transition events amid the pandemic.
The president-elect made the remark in response to a question about whether he would quickly file paperwork to run again in 2024, but it underscored the way Biden is viewing the challenges ahead.
He anticipated that a further economic relief package next year will include additional direct payments to Americans, praising the efforts of former presidential campaign rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his work with Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to insist on the $600 checks in the bill cleared Monday night.
“I think you’re seeing that there is a clear understanding that these issues go beyond any ideology,” Biden said. “People are desperately hurting, and there are Republicans that are hurting as badly as Democrats.”
Biden said that even people who haven’t faced the economic consequences of businesses closing and lost jobs still need assistance when it comes to making sure the COVID-19 vaccines get distributed.
“Making sure we have all the money we need to get the vaccine to 300 million Americans, at a minimum, over the next year, the next calendar year,” Biden said.
“So I think they’re on the things relating to a vaccine distribution, which is going to cost billions more dollars. It’s simply going to cost billions more dollars. We need national standards to lay out, to help governors to serve, how they’re going to get that vaccine throughout their communities,” he said.
He predicted a need for further unemployment assistance beyond the 11 weeks of expanded assistance in the bill passed by the House and Senate on Monday.
“We can’t wait to rebuild the economy. We’re going to have to start doing that now on infrastructure programs and a whole range of other things,” Biden said.
The president-elect also suggested further extensions of eviction moratoriums for both unpaid mortgages and rent, as well as funding to make sure that small businesses have the ability to buy sufficient personal protective equipment to open and operate safely. The federal eviction moratorium will be extended through January under the package passed Monday along with the fiscal 2021 omnibus spending bill.
In his prepared speech for the event, Biden called that measure a “down payment” even while praising members of Congress in both parties for taking the steps they did.
“I applaud the bipartisan congressional economic relief package that included funding for vaccine distribution and much needed temporary relief for workers, families and small businesses,” the president-elect said Tuesday.
“In this election the American people made it clear — they want us to reach across the aisle, work together and get something done,” Biden said. “I believed that to be the case from the very beginning, and I’m happy to see members of Congress heed that message from their constituents.”