United States (US) President Joe Biden used a fleeting handshake moment below Air Force One this week to pitch two Republican senators on his plan for infrastructure.
According to the details, an airport tarmac in New Orleans wasn’t really the setting for a full debate on his $2.3 trillion plan, which Republicans have uniformly deemed too big. But walking away, neither Biden nor his GOP greeters believed anything was off the table.
Friday’s disappointing jobs report — which showed the US economy added a scant 266,000 jobs in April — has only heaped fuel on the fire.
President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders, however, point to the jobs data as a reason to continue supporting laid-off Americans. The jobs report “is a rebuttal to the loose talk that the Americans just don’t want to work,” Biden said Friday, adding that many people can’t find positions. “While jobs are coming back, there are still millions of people out there looking for work.”
More than 4.2 million people said they are not working because they are concerned about getting or spreading the virus, according to Census survey data from the second half of April. Nearly 2.5 million said they had coronavirus symptoms or were caring for someone who did, and 6.8 million said they were caring for children who were not in school or daycare.
And supporters of the system expansion point to the fact that job increases in April were tilted toward lower-paying sectors, whose workers would benefit the most from the $300 weekly boost.
Lawmakers provided a $600 weekly supplement for four months, extended the duration of state benefits. Several Republican senators, however, almost derailed the massive $2 trillion rescue package over the $600 federal boost, which was added to state benefits.
But as the economy began to teeter amid a fresh surge of coronavirus cases in December, lawmakers in both parties agreed to provide a $300 weekly boost through mid-March and extend the two expiring federal pandemic programs for another 11 weeks.
When Democrats took control of the White House and Congress in January, they sought to boost the supplement to $400 and extend it through the end of September. But amid dissent within their own party, notably from moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, they ultimately agreed to continue the $300 enhancement until September 6.