Rice, Sanders push Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan: ‘Inaction is not an option’

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April Ryan
·4 min read
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EXCLUSIVE: As the president and vice president are set to meet with Republicans, Susan Rice and Symone Sanders say the administration is working hard to bring relief with the American Rescue Plan

Washington, D.C. is in the grips of a snowstorm with more to come into Tuesday — but the work at the White House continues. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to host Republican Senators at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to talk about the next COVID-19 relief package later this evening.

The Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan has a price tag of $1.9 trillion.

Read More: Biden nominees break down American Rescue Plan’s impact on Black communities

Domestic policy advisor, Ambassador Susan Rice, tells theGrio that the initiative is meant “to tackle the COVID crisis,” adding “It’s money for vaccines, it’s money for testing, it’s money to reopen schools safely. It’s money for Americans who suffered from this. “

Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on January 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on January 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Also included in the plan is an unemployment extension and “helping small businesses,” according to Rice.

There has been a lot of heavy lifting on the effort to pass the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Symone Sanders, chief spokesperson for Vice President Harris tells theGrio, “The president, the vice president, all of our senior White House staff are working with allies on the Hill to make that happen. The president, vice president are making phone calls to senators and members of Congress [and] working with them. This is how democracy works.”

Today’s anticipated meeting comes after the groundwork was laid. “We have put our plan out there and now we are looking for members to come to the table,” says Sanders. “They have to negotiate on this and pass a deal that we believe is urgent for the American people right now,” says Sanders.

Symone Sanders, chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen)
Symone Sanders, chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

As the Republican Party is trying to find out more and offer their own ideas about a new package, some Democrats are not in lockstep on matters of the American Rescue Plan. The current Democratic controversy centers around who should get the $1400 stimulus check.

Vice President Harris said last week on a West Virginia local newscast that every American will get the $1400 stimulus check. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), however, feels the money should be targeted to people making $40,000 to $50,000.

Manchin is on record saying, “But if a person is making $250,000 or $300,000, I don’t think they’re in much as need as a person making $40,000 or $50,000. We’re going to target it.”

Ranking Member Joe Manchin, D-WV, speaks during a hearing to examine the nomination of Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to be Secretary of Energy, on Capitol Hill, January 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jim Watson-Pool/Getty Images)
Ranking Member Joe Manchin, D-WV, speaks during a hearing to examine the nomination of Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to be Secretary of Energy, on Capitol Hill, January 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jim Watson-Pool/Getty Images)

Rice last week recalled people saying, “Where is my $2,000 check?,” adding “Well, people didn’t get a $2,000 check. They got a $600 check. Now they get another $1400. They get $2,000 for those who need it most.”

Rice firmly stands by the administration’s ARP, defining that the package offers “critical” items to respond to the immediate “crisis of COVID. That is what this package does.”

Sanders follows Rice in saying, “inaction is not an option.”

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about his racial equity agenda in the State Dining Room of the White House on January 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about his racial equity agenda in the State Dining Room of the White House on January 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

COVID-19 does not discriminate. Everyone has been impacted by the virus in some form since it became a reality in the United States about a year ago.

Sanders says, “the administration is squarely focused on building support for the American Rescue Plan … And the vice president’s office is very much so integrated into that effort and firing on all cylinders.”

“Relief” is the focus now but “recovery” is next. Sanders says, in a number of weeks the president will put forth another package to provide recovery for the American people.”

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