Delayed: Democrats Say It May Be March Before Biden Admin Considers COVID Relief
US President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater on January 6, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware. - Biden on Wednesday denounced the storming of the US Capitol as an "insurrection" and demanded President Donald Trump go on television to call an end to the violent "siege."
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden called easing the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic an “emergency” in statements leading up to Wednesday’s inauguration, but Democrats told NBC News just hours before Biden took the oath of office that further COVID-19 relief may not come until March.

Biden rolled out a $1.9 trillion relief plan last Thursday that includes “direct aid” to both businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and to individual taxpayers who recently received a $600 stimulus check. The new plan would give Americans an additional $1,400 each, bringing the grand total for the second round of relief to $2,000 — an amount Democrats and Republicans both expressed support for back in December.

But experts told CBS News on Tuesday that such a massive aid package could take far longer to pass than advertised, particularly given that Biden expects bipartisan support for the relief measure, even if lawmakers agree on the $1,400 stimulus payments.

“The price tag of the relief package, called the American Rescue Plan, is likely to face pushback from Republican lawmakers, who last year resisted Democratic efforts to pass a $2 trillion bill. Heights Securities analyst Hunter Hammond expects the ultimate package to be trimmed to $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion,” the outlet noted. There’s also a question as to whether the Senate, now in Democrats’ hands, will prioritize Biden’s agenda, or will instead allow it to linger until after they hold former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

On Wednesday, Democrats familiar with the plan told NBC News that they believe they will be able to send Biden a relief bill — in March.

“In @PunchbowlNewsAM — Democrats do not expect to be able to send @JoeBiden a Covid relief bill until early March,” Jake Sherman tweeted.

That means a final bill may not pass until late March or early April, nearly a year after the first coronavirus relief package passed, and individual stimulus payments might not reach Americans’ bank accounts until late March or early April. That’s likely far later than Americans had anticipated, given the urgency with which the Biden campaign and the Biden transition team addressed the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, Biden is expected to use a series of executive orders and strategy directives to alter how the United States government approaches pandemic management and vaccine distribution — two segments of the overall coronavirus response on which, they claim, the Trump administration failed. The executive orders, due out Wednesday afternoon, will likely require mask-wearing on federal property and will return funding to the World Health Organization.

Biden suggested, last week, that he would use the Defense Production Act to force an increase in vaccine production, but details of that plan remain hazy. Cities and states that received large shipments of the vaccine are already having difficulty vaccinating residents and, in some cases, like in New York, vaccines are going to waste because state and local infrastructure is so lacking.

Democratic Congressional leaders are already at odds with the Biden administration over how quickly to pass the new president’s agenda, given that there is still an impeachment trial pending against the former president. Biden has asked that Congress either split their time between an impeachment trial and passing his agenda — something that may or may not be Constitutional — or delay any trial until after his first 100 days in office.

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