KEY POINTS

  • Biden urged Democrats and Republicans to cooperate
  • He wants Congress to pass a $3.4 trillion relief bill
  • McConnell said he is only open to targeted bills

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday asked Congress to pass a new COVID-19 stimulus package and provide millions of Americans with "immediate relief" amid the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic. 

During his first speech as president-elect, Biden urged Congress to "come together" and pass a coronavirus relief package similar to the HEROES Act, the $3 trillion relief package House Democrats passed in May that included another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, a revival of the weekly enhanced unemployment benefits, and aid for state and local governments. The president-elect noted that sick leave and more funding for child care are also necessary.

"For millions of Americans who've lost hours and wages, or have lost jobs, we can deliver immediate relief, and it need be done quickly. Congress should come together and pass a Covid relief package," Biden said, according to CNBC

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During Monday's speech, Biden called for Democrats and Republicans to pass a relief package during the lame-duck session before they adjourn next month, Business Insider reported. 

"Refusal of Democrats, Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It's a conscious decision. If we can decide not to cooperate, we could decide to cooperate," he said. 

Lawmakers have not yet passed any new aid in months. Senate Republicans have repeatedly said they will not pass a bill with a large price tag. In contrast, House Democrats have blocked a GOP-led $500 billion "skinny" bill in September that did not include provisions for a second round of $1,200 direct payments. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have not yet negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell since the 2020 presidential election. 

Earlier this month, McConnell said passing a new stimulus bill would be his top priority following the election. However, the Republican said he is only open to a bill valued at $500 billion. He also said he would like targeted, narrow bills for schools, healthcare providers, the Paycheck Protection program, and liability reforms. 

Many relief provisions from the CARES Act are set to expire after the holidays, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. 

The PUA program expanded the federal unemployment benefits to include gig workers and freelancers, while the PEUC program provided individuals who have exhausted their state's benefits an additional 13 weeks of UI. 

US President-elect Joe Biden said he will release his trade policy agenda one day after he takes office US President-elect Joe Biden said he will release his trade policy agenda one day after he takes office Photo: AFP / ROBERTO SCHMIDT