After lackluster jobs data showed the US labor market recovery is stalling, President Joe Biden and his economic team on Friday hammered home the same message in meetings, interviews and television appearances: It's time to get more money out to the economy.
Meeting with top Democrats from the US House of Representatives at the White House, Biden said the United States would not return to full employment at the current pace of job creation for 10 years, underscoring the need for lawmakers to act on his $1.9 trillion pandemic-related aid proposal.
"Our economy is still in trouble," Biden told reporters after the meeting. "Some in Congress think we did enough - others think we can do little or nothing - that's not what I see."
Biden's stimulus proposal, which would come on top of about $4 trillion in aid passed by Congress last year, has met resistance mostly from Republican lawmakers who have expressed concerns about the swelling national debt.
But the Democratic president pushed back against Republicans on Friday, saying that what they have proposed instead would not deliver enough help to the economy.
"It's people's lives. Real-life people are hurting and we can fix it," Biden said earlier. "When we help them we are also helping our competitive capacity," he said.
Biden also urged lawmakers to avoid the risk of agreeing on a stimulus package that was too small to meet the urgent needs of the American people, millions of whom remain without jobs nearly a year after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senate worked late into the night on Thursday, with Democrats aiming to overcome opposition to the relief plan. The House was expected to approve a budget measure on Friday that would enable them to push Biden's relief package through Congress without Republican support.
Democrats have a narrow majority in the House and effective control in the Senate.
Biden's advisers are expected to keep promoting the package on Friday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Vice President Kamala Harris also will take part in a virtual discussion with members of the Black Chambers of Commerce to discuss the president's rescue plan at 3pm (local time).
US employment growth rebounded less than expected in January, with only 49,000 positions added, and job losses in December were worse than initially thought, strengthening the argument for additional government funding to aid the recovery from the pandemic.