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Biden Unveils $1.9 Trillion COVID Plan That Calls for Doubling the Federal Minimum Wage

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President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday evening proposed a $1.9 trillion plan to expand coronavirus vaccinations, give more cash to individuals, boost state and local governments and jump-start the economy.

The plan, which would require congressional approval, is packed with proposals on health care, education, labor and cybersecurity.

A tiny portion of the spending — less than 1 percent — would help struggling small businesses.

Here’s a look at what’s in it:

Coronavirus

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• $20 billion to establish community vaccination centers across the U.S. and send mobile units to remote communities. Medicaid patients would have their costs covered by the federal government, and the incoming administration says it will take steps to ensure all people in the U.S. — even illegal immigrants — can receive the vaccine free of charge.

• $50 billion to expand testing efforts and help schools and governments implement routine testing. Other efforts would focus on developing better treatments for COVID-19 and improving efforts to identify and track new strains of the virus.

Individuals and Workers

• Stimulus checks of $1,400 per person in addition to the $600 checks Congress approved in December. Bringing payments to $2,000 — an amount President Donald Trump and others previously called for — would help families meet basic needs and support local businesses, according to the incoming administration.

• A temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures would be extended through September.

• The federal minimum wage would be more than doubled to $15 per hour from the current rate of $7.25 per hour.

• An emergency measure requiring employers to provide paid sick leave would be reinstated. The Biden team is urging Congress to keep the requirement through Sept. 30 and expand it to federal employees.

• The child care tax credit would be expanded for a year, to cover half the cost of child care up to $4,000 for one child and $8,000 for two or more for families making less than $125,000 a year. Families making between $125,000 and $400,000 would get a partial credit.

• $15 billion in federal grants to help states subsidize child care for low-income families, along with a $25 billion fund to help child care centers in danger of closing.

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State and Local Government

• $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments to help front-line workers.

• $20 billion in aid to public transit agencies.

Schools

• $130 billion to help K-12 schools reopen safely. The money is meant to help reach Biden’s goal of having a majority of the nation’s K-8 schools open within his first 100 days in the White House. Schools could use the funding to cover a variety of costs, including the purchase of masks and other protective equipment, upgrades to ventilation systems and staffing for school nurses. Schools would be expected to use the funding to help students who fell behind on academics during the pandemic and to meet students’ mental health needs. A portion of the funding would go to education equity grants to help with challenges caused by the pandemic.

• Public colleges and universities would get $35 billion to cover pandemic-related expenses and to steer funding to students as emergency grants. An additional $5 billion would go to governors to support programs helping students who were hit hardest by the pandemic.

Small Businesses

• $15 billion in grants to more than 1 million small businesses that have been hit hard by coronavirus-related government shutdowns, as well as other assistance. That total is just 0.79 percent of the $1.9 trillion package.

Cybersecurity

• $9 billion to modernize information technology systems at federal agencies, motivated by recent cybersecurity attacks that penetrated multiple agencies.

• $690 million to boost federal cybersecurity monitoring efforts and $200 million to hire hundreds of new cybersecurity experts.

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The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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