Joe Biden unveils a $1.9 trillion stimulus plan with $1,400 direct payments and federal unemployment benefits
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  • Biden unveiled his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan on Thursday.

  • It contained a $1,400 boost to stimulus checks, robust state and local aid, as well as vaccine distribution funds.

  • The plan underscores Biden's intent to aggressively shore up a deteriorating economy and address the devastation wrought by the pandemic.

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President-elect Joe Biden laid out his plan for another $1.9 trillion economic rescue package on Thursday, seeking to combat the economic and health crises stemming from the pandemic.

The stimulus plan is designed to provide another infusion of federal aid for families, businesses and local governments confronting a surge of cases and a weakening economy. Thousands of Americans are still dying from the virus each day and infections are still rising.

Biden's proposal called "The American Rescue Plan" includes:

  • A $1,400 top-up for stimulus checks which will bring the total distributed amount from December to $2,000.

  • $400 in weekly federal unemployment benefits through September 2021.

  • $130 billion in funds to reopen schools.

  • $350 billion in state and local assistance.

Federal unemployment programs for gig workers, freelancers, and people who exhausted their state benefits would also be extended to September.

Biden faces a delicate balancing act in the initial days of his presidency. A pair of victories last week in the Georgia runoffs gave Democrats control of the Senate – and they are poised to control the full levers of power in Washington for the first time in a decade.

It opens the door for Democrats to enact an array of legislation on the economy, healthcare, and climate change without GOP votes using the reconciliation process. But a second impeachment trial for President Donald Trump threatens to slow down cabinet confirmations and other parts of Biden's agenda.

"You can walk and chew gum at the same time. We're going to have two-tracks," Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the incoming chair of the Senate Finance Committee, told Insider in an interview on Thursday. "I'm not going to let anything get in the way of our advancing an agenda when the economy is so fragile and people are hurting."

There are signs the economic recovery is in danger of backsliding. New data from the Department of Labor on Thursday showed 1.4 million people filed for unemployment last week, a notable jump after the holiday season. Nearly 18 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits.

Last week, another government report indicated that the economy shed 140,000 jobs in December, the first time since April.

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

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