Biden pledges to soon lay out groundwork for next COVID-19 relief package

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said on Friday that he will be laying out the groundwork for the next COVID-19 relief package next week, as the country's economic recovery stalls amid a surging pandemic.

"As I've said before, the bipartisan COVID relief package passed in December is an important step, but just a downpayment," Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, referring to the 900-billion-USD relief plan recently approved by Congress.

"Next week, I will be laying out the groundwork for the next COVID economic relief package that meets this critical moment for our economy and country," said the president-elect.

Citing the newly released December employment data, Biden said the report, which showed a job loss of 140,000, is the the first negative jobs report since the height of the pandemic in the spring.

"More people have just lost a job while many have been out of work for a long time. The ongoing gap in Black and Latino unemployment remains much too large," Biden said.

"With the pandemic raging, people are losing work and losing hope," he said.

Amid widespread COVID-19 shutdowns in March and April last year, 22 million Americans lost their jobs. The latest data showed that the number of unemployed in December remained unchanged at 10.7 million, which is about 5 million higher than pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

"The bottom line is the jobs report shows we need to provide more immediate relief for working families and businesses now. Not just to help them get to the other side of this painful crisis, but to avoid the broader economic costs due to long-term unemployment, hunger, homelessness and businesses failing," Biden said.

In the speech, the president-elect announced the latest members of the economic team, noting that with their announcements, his team has finished naming Cabinet members.

For secretary of commerce, Biden nominated Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. For secretary of labor, he nominated Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. For administrator of the Small Business Administration, he nominated Isabel Guzman, director of California's Office of the Small Business Advocate.

Earlier, Biden had tapped Janet Yellen, former Federal Reserve chair, to lead the Treasury Department, and chose Katherine Tai, a veteran international trade expert, for U.S. Trade Representative.

Calling it a "historic" Cabinet, the president-elect said this will be the first Cabinet ever that is evenly composed of women and men, and will be the first Cabinet ever with a majority of people of color.

"It is my hope and expectation that the Senate will confirm these nominees promptly and fairly," he said. "That's especially the case for nominees for Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury, and Homeland Security who I nominated back in November." Enditem

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