U.S. President Joe Biden travels Tuesday to a suburb of Philadelphia as his administration focuses on small businesses in its campaign to promote the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package he signed last week.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden would highlight “how the Rescue Plan invests in small businesses — a key component of the package — including minority-owned businesses, so they can rehire and retain workers while keeping them safe.”
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are taking part in the effort as well, meeting with small business owners in Colorado on Tuesday after visiting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the state.
Biden said Monday the United States would achieve “two giant goals” in the next 10 days — the completion of 100 million coronavirus vaccine shots in people’s arms and the disbursement of 100 million checks that were part of the relief package.
“The American rescue plan is already doing what it was designed to do — make a difference in people’s everyday lives,” Biden said Monday during remarks in the White House State Dining Room.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday the president should not take too much credit for what McConnell called “the optimistic springtime that lies before us.”
“The groundwork we laid last year is proving an historic success,” McConnell said. “Where the Biden Administration is continuing to help streamline distribution, they should of course get some credit. But their effort to sprint to the front of this year-long campaign should not fool anybody.”
What the Biden administration is promoting as the “Help is Here” tour began Monday with stops scheduled throughout the week to promote the benefits of the plan.
The appearances are intended to highlight to voters how the aid, approved by both chambers of Congress despite uniform Republican opposition, could help them. Republican lawmakers objected to the size of the deal and said that some of the funding is not tied directly to trying to end the pandemic in the United States.
“The American Rescue Plan includes a $350 billion bailout for states, rewarding those with poor fiscal management and punishing those who operated responsibly during the pandemic. Funds can be used for virtually anything a state chooses to spend money on, with next to nothing in terms of constraints or restrictions,” said Republican Senator Mike Crapo in a statement on Monday.
The ranking member of the Senate finance committee and his fellow Idaho Republican senator, Jim Risch, have introduced a bill to eliminate a provision in the legislation Biden signed that would that prevents states from using relief funds to cut taxes.
First lady Jill Biden went to the state of New Jersey on Monday where she joined Governor Phil Murphy at a school in Burlington.
“We are going to safely open schools. We are going to get people back to work. We're going to lift up the families who are struggling to get by,” she said at the Samuel Smith Elementary School.
Harris traveled west to visit a COVID-19 vaccination site at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and several other locations in the area.
The vice president was asked by a reporter why the administration is compelled to sell the plan, which enjoys widespread public support.
“It’s not selling,” Harris replied. “It’s kind of like you buy a product — you’re already sold on the product, but you need some directions out of the box.”
Both Biden and Harris are to make appearances in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday.
“When it’s a package of this size, people don’t always know how they benefit,” explained Psaki, responding to reporters’ questions Monday about the president’s travel this week.
The American Rescue Plan is one of the largest economic assistance packages in U.S. history and the first major legislative victory for Biden.
Millions of adult Americans, all but those in upper-income tax brackets, will receive $1,400 stimulus checks, with tax credits for children. Billions of dollars are being sent to state and local governments and businesses that have been hit hard by the year-long pandemic. Additional aid is being spent to boost vaccinations of millions of Americans, where more than 535,000 Americans have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
National polls have shown that the relief package has wide support, even among Republicans, but Biden is not taking its popularity for granted.