“Right now, Congress should come together and pass a COVID relief package like the HEROES Act that the House passed six months ago,” Biden told a press briefing in Wilmington, Delaware.
House Democrats passed the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May, but it was never taken up by the Senate.
“Once we shut down the virus and deliver economic relief to workers and businesses, then we can start to build back better than before,” Biden said.
Congress passed a package known as the CARES Act in March that authorized more than $2 trillion for small businesses and job preservation, among other things. President Donald Trump signed the bill.
Since then, Congress has declined to pass another large package.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the White House negotiated throughout October but failed to reach a compromise. The Republican-controlled Senate is reluctant to approve another large package, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he’d let a Trump-backed package go to the Senate floor for a vote.
Pelosi last week called for action on a stimulus deal, though she’s stood firm when pressed by White House negotiators to go below $3 trillion.
McConnell told reporters on Nov. 4 that America needs another relief package.
“Hopefully the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election, and I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently said McConnell is the one who is holding up a package.
“The bottom line is very simple, we need a large, strong COVID bill to deal with our problems,” Schumer said. “We have heard for months, every time we get close to a deal, Senator McConnell says no, he has become the Doctor No of COVID, just like he has been the Doctor No of all the bills in the Senate over the last several years.”
Republicans have long dismissed the HEROES Act as too unwieldy, with Trump especially denouncing aid that would go to state governments in poor financial shape.
Biden said on Nov. 15 that he backs the package.
“What I would do is pass the HEROES Act,” he said, when asked what lawmakers should be doing now to prevent job losses and keep businesses open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has all the money and capacity to take care of each of those things now. Now, not tomorrow. Now. And the idea the president is still playing golf and not doing anything about it is beyond my comprehension. You’d at least think he’d want to go off on a positive note. But what is he doing? There’s virtually no discussion.”
Trump hadn’t mentioned a possible stimulus since Election Day before tweeting on Nov. 14: “Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!”
He previously blamed Democrats for the stalled negotiations, saying they didn’t want to deliver him a win before the election.
Biden said he was told there are 22 Republican senators who will not vote for any package, no matter what it contains.
“There ought to be at least a dozen of them to have the courage to stand up and save lives and jobs now. We should be doing it now,” he said. “Keeping those businesses open. Providing the PPE, the protective equipment, as well as the PPP, the money that allows people to get funding to keep their businesses open.”