REUTERS NEXT-Biden's economic plan to focus on immediate rescue from COVID crisis -adviser

14 Jan 2021 / 02:59 H.

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    By Trevor Hunnicutt

    Jan 13 (Reuters) - President-elect Joe Biden will press Congress on Thursday to deliver immediate pandemic "rescue" efforts before turning to broader "recovery" measures like healthcare and infrastructure, the top economic adviser in the incoming administration said on Wednesday.

    In an appearance at Reuters Next, Brian Deese, who will head the National Economic Council in the new Democratic administration, said Biden will lay out a two-track economic plan.

    The first will be a "rescue bucket," including rounding out the $2,000 payments he wanted to help weather the COVID-19 downturn, and a longer-term recovery effort that aims to deliver on the Build Back Better plan he laid out during the president campaign.

    He said the transition team has already started briefing senior Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the proposal, which will be unveiled on Thursday.

    The proposal will include the direct payments, money to ramp up a national vaccinations effort, testing, contact tracing and funding to get most schools reopened shortly.

    "What you are going to hear from the president-elect is a robust effort to get at that issue of ... relief and at the same time signal the need to begin working on those investments in the recovery," said Deese.

    "We need an immediate rescue package that finishes the work that Congress took an important step on in December, but left a lot of work undone. We need to focus immediately again on underwriting the investments necessary to make a nationwide vaccination program work."

    Deese pointed to the most recent U.S. employment report, which showed 140,000 jobs lost in December - the first decline in payrolls since April - as a warning that must be heeded.

    "The December jobs report I think is a signal for all of us to take very seriously that the trajectory of the virus and the trajectory of the economy are not where they need to be," Deese said.

    (Reporting By Trevor Hunnicutt; Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

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