Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has been pushing the federal government to provide more support amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, is praising President-elect Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion “America Rescue Plan,” which aims to provide funding for vaccinations, testing and relief checks to millions of Americans.
The proposal, unveiled Thursday night, is part of Biden’s push to step up efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 400,000 Americans since it began last year.
Pritzker, a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s policies during the pandemic, praised the measure as “serious and effective,” and said that it matches the nation’s needs during a pivotal time in the fight against the virus.
“I’m grateful to see President-elect Biden’s serious and effective plan for bringing this pandemic to a close with the urgency Illinoisans deserve,” he said. “The American Rescue Plan promises to match this moment of national crisis. As I’ve said from the beginning, it is the responsibility of government to deliver real relief when our people are hurting, and I look forward to partnering with the Biden administration to accelerate vaccination efforts, protect the health of Illinoisans, provide meaningful economic support to our workers and small businesses and to put COVID-19 behind us once and for all.”
Included in the bill are $1,400 relief checks for most Americans. Biden had originally pushed for new $2,000 checks, but the new proposal will instead provide the additional $1,400 to pair with the original $600 checks that were approved by Congress in late December.
The bill also aims to meet Biden’s stated goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses within the first 100 days of his administration, with more than $20 billion going to help achieve that goal.
Biden says that while the price tag for the legislation is high, the cost of inaction is even higher, and that “bold” measures are required to give the United States the upper hand on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I know what I just described does not come cheaply, but we simply can’t afford not to do what I’m proposing,” he said. “If we invest now boldly, smartly and with unwavering focus on American workers and families, we will strengthen our economy, reduce inequity and put our nation’s long-term finances on the most sustainable course.”
In the past, Biden has said that his administration’s goal is to get children back in school by the spring, and he says that a variety of investments in the bill would go toward that goal, including increasing testing and helping ensure that schools can be occupied safely during the pandemic.
For American workers, the bill would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, expand paid leave for workers, and increase tax credits for families with children. The bill would also extend temporary boosts in unemployment benefits, as well as a federal moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.