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‘Help is here,’ Biden says in promoting COVID relief bill

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden launched a “help is here” campaign Monday with a speech highlighting the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and recognizing the political accomplishment of pushing the legislation through Congress without Republican support.

Biden delivered his speech as Vice President Kamala Harris was in Las Vegas to tour a vaccination clinic and first lady Jill Biden flew to New Jersey to explain how the package would help schools and education programs.

“In the next 10 days, we will reach two giant goals: 100 million shots in people’s arms and 100 million checks in people’s pockets,” Biden said.

The president and vice president plan a seven-state swing this week to detail components of the package that Democrats cobbled together to provide an economic stimulus for working families and accelerate vaccinations.

Biden and Harris have events planned in states that were critical to Democratic victories in 2020, and likely to be important in the midterm elections and in 2024, such as Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Republicans have criticized the package as a boon to special interests, at a cost that will escalate the debt by $4.1 trillion. But Biden dismissed the criticism and touted the goals he has set, and the relief that the package will provide.

Through direct payments, some 85 percent of U.S. families will receive at least $1,400, and a family of four on a modest income could get as much as $5,600.

The package includes loans for small businesses, schools, states, cities and transportation projects. The state of Nevada, its counties and cities and schools will receive more than $4.5 billion in federal assistance.

Biden has set a goal of having every eligible adult registered for a vaccination by May 1, with the country returning to some sense of normalcy by July 4.

During the speech, Biden also announced that Gene Sperling, who has twice served as director of the National Economic Council under Democratic administrations, would implement the relief plan.

Biden said Sperling would work with governors and mayors from red and blue states to implement the package with funds to ramp up production and deliver vaccines, as well as provide oversight to prevent fraud and abuse.

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., praised the appointment of Sperling and the need for a point person in the administration as the rescue plan is implemented.

To have a point of contact will help Congress as it moves forward with the plan, said Horsford, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee that wrote major portions of the bill.

“This is a big, bold package,” said Horsford by telephone from Las Vegas where he introduced the vice president during her appearance at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas.

In the meantime, Biden said the implementation of the plan would provide child tax credits of $3,600 that would help lift children out of poverty, extend unemployment benefits and help boost the economy after a year of business closures and financial hardship.

“Help is here and hope is here in real and tangible ways,” Biden said.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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