Biden
© Getty Images/Alex Wong
Former US VP Joe Biden
President-Elect Joe Biden on Thursday introduced a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan that includes $2,000 direct payments to Americans and mandates a $15 minimum wage.

The plan is Biden's first official pass at a coronavirus relief plan, adding an additional $1,400 to the existing $600 direct payments President Donald Trump signed in December.

Biden introduced the plan amid upheaval in Congress over Trump's second impeachment in the House of Representatives. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has shot down calls for a special Senate session to convict Trump prior to Biden's inauguration. Biden himself has also said he expects Congress to be ready to deliberate on his legislation when he takes office.


Biden's proposal would send $400 billion toward increasing vaccine use, testing, and reopening schools; more than $1 trillion in direct relief through either employment benefits or direct payments; $90 billion to businesses and communities; and $350 billion in emergency funding to state and local governments, according to the Washington Post. The bill also imposes a ban on evictions through September 2021.

Republicans in the Senate are sure to push against the high price tag, which is roughly one trillion dollars more than plans they proposed in late 2020. The deciding factor will likely come down to moderate Democrats like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. Democrats won out in both Georgia runoff elections in early January, putting them at a 50-50 tie with Republicans in the Senate, which in turn makes Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris the deciding vote.

While Biden has openly condemned Trump for his role in inciting pro-Trump rioters to storm the U.S. Capitol last week, he has hesitated to encourage impeachment. When first asked about the prospect on January 8, he argued that impeachment "is a decision for Congress." Biden said in a statement Wednesday:
"Last week, we saw an unprecedented assault on our democracy. It was carried out by political extremists and domestic terrorists, who were incited to this violence by President Trump. It was an armed insurrection against the United States of America. And those responsible must be held accountable.

"I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation. From confirmations to key posts ... to getting our vaccine program on track, and to getting our economy going again."