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Biden unveils $1.9 trillion economic relief plan as Trump's Senate trial looms

Joe Biden
Posted at 10:21 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 08:06:47-05

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his $1.9 trillion coronavirus economic relief package, an ambitious plan that includes a drive to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days in office. Meanwhile, President Trump's post-presidency future remains unclear as he faces a trial in the Senate — although Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would not reconvene before January 19, the day before Mr. Trump leaves office.

Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, Mr. Biden announced what could be the signature legislation of his first 100 days. It's expensive legislation with three major targets: $400 billion for arresting the spread of COVID-19 and increasing vaccine capabilities, over $1 trillion to assist families needing direct financial support, and $440 billion in emergency funds for cash-poor small businesses and communities.

"I believe we have a moral obligation," Mr. Biden said in a speech on Thursday night. "In this pandemic in America, we cannot let people go hungry, we cannot let people get evicted, we cannot watch nurses, educators and others lose their jobs, we so badly need them. We must act now, and we must act decisively."

The transition team announced on Thursday Mr. Biden had selected Jaime Harrison, the former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from South Carolina who raised record sums of money in his failed bid to unseat GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, to lead the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Trump remained out of the public eye on Thursday, one day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach him for a second time. McConnell, who has not said how he will vote in a trial, said on Wednesday that the Senate could not finish a trial before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

If the Senate trial stretches into Mr. Biden's term, the Senate could conceivably still choose to convict Mr. Trump and bar him from holding any federal office in the future, although scholars differ on the constitutionality of holding a trial once the accused has left office. A vote to convict would require a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

On Thursday, the parts of the West Wing accessible to the press looked increasingly vacant. Boxes and containers were being filled with staffers' personal belongings, and some White House aides were seen posing for photos in the Rose Garden.