March 4, 2024

Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Exits a subway car on the Senate subway on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, between votes at the Capitol in Washington DC.

Caroline Brehman | CQ appeal | Getty Images

Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio urges President-elect Joe Biden to push for $ 2,000 in direct payments to Americans on the first day of his presidency as a token of unity following the DC uprising last week.

“Last Wednesday was one of the darkest days in our history. Everywhere in our nation people are looking for answers and calling for accountability, but they are also desperate for hope: hope that Washington leaders can take steps to help our deeply divided People to Heal Nation, “the Florida Republican wrote in a letter to Biden Tuesday.

He added, “It would send a strong message to the American people if, on the first day of your presidency, you asked the House and Senate to pass laws to you to increase direct payments to Americans for the economic impact that because of the pandemic to have to fight from $ 600 to $ 2,000. “

Rubio and Biden both supported $ 2,000 direct payments in the Covid-19 auxiliary bill that was passed late last year. That move was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Biden has not yet set his full agenda for the next round of coronavirus-related aid, but is expected to do so on Thursday. It was already expected that he would push for $ 2,000 in payments.

Democrats have more leverage over the next round of talks thanks to the party’s victories in Georgia’s two democratic runoff elections last week, which allowed them to control the upper chamber of Congress. Democrats will soon hold the Senate, House of Representatives, and White House. Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th at 12 noon.

Following news of the Georgia victories, Biden said he would be pushing for “trillions” in spending on Covid-19 aid.

“It is necessary to spend the money now,” Biden said last week. “The answer is yes, it will be in the trillions of dollars, a whole package.”

The economy, which has been plagued by the health crisis since March, has recently shown signs of deteriorating again after months of lukewarm recovery. The number of non-farm workers fell by 140,000 last month. This marked the first net job loss for the economy since the US lockdown began

In the letter, Rubio urged Biden not to let the payments “get entangled in normal political games by adding a wish-list of left-wing or other unrelated priorities to this legislation”.

“All too often, popular and necessary legislation is used as a lever to secure passage for guidelines that cannot of their own accord,” wrote Rubio. “We saw it already in the middle of the pandemic, when additional funding for small businesses was repeatedly blocked for months.”

The Biden transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

One of the possible measures that Biden has proposed as part of the aid package for Covid-19 is an increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, a longstanding Democratic priority. Two-thirds of Americans said last year that they are in favor of raising the minimum wage to this level, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

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