CHESTER, Pa. - President Joe Biden and his top messengers are touring the country to raise hopes over his $1.9 trillion relief package. Biden visited a small business in Delaware County Tuesday, his first trip outside Washington for the "Help is Here" tour.
Biden’s administration estimates that 400,000 small businesses have closed because of the pandemic and millions more are barely surviving. His aid package includes a $28 billion grant program to support restaurants and drinking establishments. There are also $15 billion in flexible grants that can be allocated.
To drive home the point, Biden visited Smith Flooring Inc. in Chester Township, a Black-owned business that supplies and installs flooring, that saw revenue fall about 20% during the pandemic. The business recently qualified for a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan during a two-week window that ended earlier this month in which the Biden administration focused the program exclusively on helping small businesses with 20 or fewer employees.
Smith Flooring, which during peak times has 22 employees but currently is employing 12 workers, is using the loan to help retain workers and upgrade technology. Borrowers are eligible for forgiveness if they meet certain requirements, including devoting at least 60% of the proceeds to payroll expenses.
The roadshow kicked off with remarks from President Joe Biden on the White House's effort to highlight the benefits of his huge COVID relief plan. He declared that "hope is here in real and tangible ways" as his administration began fanning out across the country to promote the new spending.
Biden said that within the next 10 days, his administration will clear two important benchmarks: distributing 100 million stimulus payments and administering 100 million vaccine doses since he took office.
He and Harris are slated to appear together in Atlanta on Friday.
"Hope is here in real and tangible ways," Biden said Monday at the White House. He said the new government spending will bankroll efforts that could allow the nation to emerge from the pandemic's twin crises, health and economic.
"Shots in arms and money in pockets," the president said. "That’s important. The American Rescue Plan is already doing what it was designed to do: make a difference in people’s everyday lives. We’re just getting started."
Also on Monday, first lady Jill Biden toured a New Jersey elementary school.
While in New Jersey, Dr. Jill Biden spoke of the difficulties families are facing due to the pandemic, but that the American Rescue Plan is focused on strengthening communities.
She announced three different categories of help for families during the pandemic, which included direct payments to support families, childcare, and saving jobs.
"And this pandemic has made the problem so much worse. Like schools, parents need childcare in order to work," she explained. As a result, a record number of mothers have left the workforce in order to take care of their children Dr. Jill Biden added.
Last week, President Biden directed states to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine no later than May 1. Delaware County, one of the state's most populated areas, was among several southeastern counties that rallied for an increased shipment of doses last week.
Biden said that within the next 10 days, his administration will clear two important benchmarks: distributing 100 million stimulus payments and administering 100 million vaccine doses since he took office. To commemorate those milestones, Biden and his top representatives are embarking on their most ambitious travel schedule of his young presidency, visiting a series of potential election battleground states this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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