Joe Biden's Economic Stimulus Plan Includes $15 Minimum Wage, Increasing Unemployment Payments

President-elect Joe Biden will unveil a sweeping $1.9 trillion economic and coronavirus relief package during a public address Thursday evening that provides for additional stimulus checks for most Americans and a ramped-up COVID-19 testing and vaccines.

"The need is immediate and the urgency is increasing," a Biden senior official told Newsweek and other reporters Thursday ahead of the public address. "He believes we need to take decisive action to give American people some direct relief, to get our hands around this virus and put our economy on a positive trajectory."

The official said Biden's already been speaking to Congressional leaders about his plan and sees Thursday's speech as a way to build public support behind the ideas it contains.

"The president-elect is going out with a plan and going to speak to the nation to make the case," the Biden official said. "He's going to work with members of both parties and with congressional leadership to work quickly on the best path forward."

Biden's speech comes less than a week until he's set to be sworn into office in a tumultuous, politically divided month. For weeks, President Donald Trump refused to concede he had lost the race and urged his supporters and allies in Congress to try to upend the election results to favor him. On January 6, Trump supporters who left a rally that he spoke at stormed the U.S. Capitol, sparking a deadly riot that forced members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence to be whisked away to safe rooms as rioters busted windows, scaled walls and stormed the floors of the House and Senate. The riots interrupted the certification of Biden as president, but lawmakers resumed later in the evening and confirmed his election.

This week, the Democrat-led House voted to impeach Trump—for the second time in little more than a year—for his role in urging the Capitol siege. The U.S. Senate acquitted Trump of his previous impeachment charge but isn't expected to vote whether to convict Trump until after Biden takes office and Democrats take control of the chamber.

"You're gonna see the president-elect call for the kind of pragmatism and unity to try to get something done," the senior Biden official said.

Biden plan unveiled tonight is being dubbed an immediate "rescue plan"—addressing the nation's most pressing challenges—with Biden expected to release another "recovery plan" likely next month to address deeper challenges facing the American economy and unemployment.

Some key pieces of Biden's plan that would need Congressional approval before it could become law:

  • An additional $1,400 in direct stimulus payments—on top of the $600 that Congress approved last month, after rejecting a last-ditch push for the full $2,000.
  • $160 billion in additional funding for an aggressive national vaccination program.
  • $240 billion in additional efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic, including for the safe reopening of schools and paid sick leave to contain spread of the virus.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Congress hasn't raised the minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, in more than a decade.
  • Extending the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums through September 30. They are set to expire at the end of this month.
  • Increasing federal unemployment payments from $300 a month to $400 a month and extending the period of available pay.
Biden
President-elect Joe Biden gestures during a campaign stop outside Johnstown Train Station in September in Johnstown, Pennsylvania before the election. Alex Wong/Getty