President-Elect Biden Announces $1.9 Trillion “America Rescue Plan”
On January 14, President-elect Biden announced a $1.9 trillion” American Rescue Plan” to combat COVID-19 and help American recover.
Biden’s ambitious plan would send $1,400 stimulus checks to Americans; increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hour; and leverage $35 billion in government funds into an additional $175 billion in low-interest loans to entrepreneurs, particularly those in the clean energy sector.
The plan also includes $5 billion to cover home energy and water costs and provides a competitive set-aside of funding for states that invest in clean energy and energy efficiency projects in an effort to reduce electricity costs for families in disadvantaged communities.
The proposal is already facing pushback from Republicans and liberal Democrats. COVID-19 relief will be President-elect Biden’s top priority when he assumes office on January 20th and this plan will test the strength of a slim Democrat majority in the House and Senate.
Congress is largely out of session through Inauguration, however, Senate Democrats are discussing combining a COVID-relief package with an infrastructure package that, theoretically, could pass without Republican votes through budget reconciliation (50 vote threshold in the Senate so long as the legislation relates to spending).
Incoming Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is said to be considering whether to use this tool to include President-elect Biden’s $2 trillion clean energy and infrastructure plan.
However, such plans to pass legislation without Republican support may not be possible. Incoming Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he will “stick with bipartisanship” and will prioritize investments for communities in his home state that have lose coal jobs to newer energy sources.
In a recent Politico interview, Sen. Manchin said his “main goal is to make sure we maintain energy independence. That’s an all-in energy policy and doing it in a cleanest fashion humanly possible through innovation and technology.”
Sen. Manchin has not yet scheduled confirmation hearings for Biden Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm.