President-elect Joe Biden doesn't take office until Jan. 20, 2021, but on Tuesday, he introduced his picks for the nation's most important economic positions. He reiterated his call for Congress to pass another stimulus bill and says more relief will be necessary once he takes office.
"Any package passed in lame-duck session is, at best, just a start," he said.
While Biden's stimulus plan takes form, a smaller stimulus bill is coalescing in Washington. One front-runner is a new bipartisan, bicameral $900 billion proposal, which was first swatted down by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As of Thursday, it isn't clear if McConnell is more open to the idea of a compromise with Democratic leadership or if he'll stick with a $500 "skinny" bill that twice failed to advance in the Senate.
The $908 billion plan would include extending the expiring enhanced unemployment benefits and reinstating the $300 weekly bonus payment, but it doesn't provide a second stimulus check.
As president, Biden can sign executive orders to offer some relief such as extending student loan deferments and eviction moratorium similar to what President Donald Trump did back in August, but he'll need a full-fledged stimulus plan to provide struggling Americans with the money they need. So, will it have another direct payment for $1,200 or not?
That part is still uncertain. But what we do know is that during his campaign, President-elect Biden laid out his "Emergency Action Plan to Save the Economy," which did make way for more direct aid to individuals and families.
Here's a look at what in the Biden plan and in the stimulus bills debated on by Congress, and what he wants to do that's not in the relief package.
A second round of stimulus checks is a definite possibility
The CARES Act, passed in March, was the first stimulus package intended to help people financially affected by the pandemic. One of the most popular aspects of the act was a stimulus check of up to $1,200 sent out to more than 160 million Americans. That direct aid caused a jump in household spending, helped millions at risk of slipping into poverty and allowed others to save.
Biden's plan, like the one President Donald Trump has backed, will include more direct stimulus payments, but it doesn't specify how many or for how much, or if any of the qualifications would change. Democrats and Republicans are currently negotiating for more stimulus relief that would include another round of direct payments, but the clock is ticking to get a bill passed.
Read more: If you want your second stimulus check faster, do this now
Bigger unemployment benefits for job-seekers
COVID-19 lockdowns across cities led to an unprecedented spike in unemployment, with more than 20 million people having lost their jobs back in May. To help those unemployed suddenly, the CARES Act provided a weekly bonus payment of $600 on top of unemployment benefits provided by the states. These extra funds expired at the end of July, and Trump restarted a smaller version of the bonus in August via an executive memo. This temporary relief provided $300 extra for six weeks and has since been exhausted; only a new stimulus package would provide more funds. (Here's every benefit that dries up if the stimulus isn't renewed.)
Biden's plan doesn't go into specifics about how much funding may be available. It does say a bill would improve unemployment benefits.
More money for monthly Social Security checks
There were no measures to boost Social Security in the CARES Act or in other relief packages since then. Biden's stimulus plan calls for an additional $200 to be added to the monthly payments that go to Social Security recipients.
Debt forgiveness for federal student loans
The stimulus bills in Congress
Included in the CARES Act was a forbearance for student loans. Individuals who owed money wouldn't need to make payments or see any interest accrue until "the end of September," according to Biden's stimulus vision. If implemented in the future, there would, of course, be a different cutoff date.
Back in August, Trump extended the forbearance until the end of 2020. Biden goes in a different direction, with the president-elect recently saying he supports a loan forgiveness of $10,000 minimum. (In September, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democrat and former presidential candidate, outlined a plan to forgive the federal student loan debt.) Biden's "Plan for Education Beyond High School" also focuses on student loans, with changes such as enrolling new and existing loans into income-based repayment plans and forgiving the debt after 20 years of repayment.
Other measures Biden has endorsed
Biden's plan could also include:
- More money for small businesses
- Emergency sick leave for everyone who needs it
- Fiscal relief for states
- No out-of-pocket money for COVID-19 testing, treatment and an eventual vaccine
For more information on the stimulus package situation, read how to calculate your stimulus money, why you might receive an EIP card instead of a check and all the reasons your next check could be bigger.