BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Days after President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan passed a U.S. House panel, White House officials maintain time is ticking.
In an interview Wednesday, White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein notes that key provisions of previous relief packages will expire within weeks.
“If unemployment runs out for these folks, that’s going to be not just a huge problem for them, but a huge problem for the economies and the communities they live in,” Bernstein told BRProud.com.
But the rush to pass a plan before the last one’s benefits expire faces backlash from notable Louisiana Republicans.
“President Biden, I mean no disrespect, but he has flip-flopped on this issue like a banked catfish,” Sen. John Kennedy said in a video Wednesday.
Kennedy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise have taken particular aim at the $130 billion slated for K-12 schools, which they argue may not go toward the in-person learning efforts they want.
“People are starting to find out what’s in this bill, and they’re also starting to find out what’s not in this bill,” Scalise said.
“I’ve been a volunteer substitute teacher for 20 years in Louisiana, and I can tell you there’s no substitute for in-person learning,” Kennedy said.
Bernstein maintains the relief plan — also known as “American Rescue” — isn’t just about bringing people back to school, but also about keeping them in class.
“If people aren’t vaccinated, they’re not going to be comfortable sending their kids to schools,” Bernstein said. “There are significant resources in here to make sure the virus is controlled.”
It’s unclear how many Republicans will vote for the plan, though Democrats have a strong enough majority to pass one without them.