President Joe Biden used a primetime address Thursday evening to direct states to ensure every adult will be eligible for a vaccine shot no later than May 1, as he unveiled the $1.9 trillion relief package he signed earlier in the day.
He spoke of the army of people giving the shots and steps to make the process easier and more convenient.
On the 50th day in office, Biden said he will meet his goal of reopening the majority of K-8 schools in his first 100 days.
“I will not relent until we beat this virus, but I need you, the American people,” Biden said. “I need every American to do their part.”
If that happens, people might be able to gather in small groups for the Fourth of July, “after this long hard year.”
The more people who get vaccinated, the more restrictions that can be reduced, the president said.
Colorado, a state of 5.8 million residents, has distributed about 1.8 million doses as of Thursday evening.
Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday that 90% of the state’s kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers were vaccinated, as well as 60% of Coloradans ages 65 to 69 and 74% of those older than 70.
Biden said the acceleration of vaccinations is a primary objective of the American Rescue Plan Act.
The president noted the death toll that has exceeded 519,000 people, including more than 6,000 Coloradans. Biden said for the last year, Americans have been left to fend for themselves.
“We know what we need to do to beat this virus,” Biden said to the nation. “Tell the truth, follow the scientists and the science, work together, put trust and faith in our government to fulfill its most important function, which is protecting the American people, no function more important.”
Under the relief plan, a family of four with $100,000 in annual income between them will get back $5,600.
Leaders of the heretofore cash-strapped Colorado legislature hailed the national plan Wednesday outside the governor’s mansion in Denver, as they faced the potential of another round of deep cuts. The bill has stymied the release of some legislation, such as expanding and improving transportation, because of the potential federal windfall.
Policymakers and partisans were sorting out the state’s windfall Thursday afternoon once the deal became official.
Sen. John Hickenlooper’s office said Thursday that 82% of Coloradans, about 4.7 million people, will get a stimulus check up to $1,400. The benefit tapers off for individuals who make more than $75,000 a year and ends at a threshold of $80,000 a year.
Families will receive a tax credit of up to $300 per child each month, which could reduce some families’ federal income tax bill, and others could opt to receive the benefit in direct payments each month.
The senator’s office also said the relief bill will lift 57,000 Colorado kids out of poverty.
“Help is here,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “COVID has wreaked havoc on our communities, but the American Rescue Plan will help Colorado bounce back. This bill supercharges vaccine distribution, gets our kids safely back in the classroom, and lifts millions out of poverty while boosting the economy. We will emerge stronger from this pandemic and economic crisis.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Lafayette, tweeted out his approval to his constituents Thursday afternoon.
“The bill is a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package that will put shots in the arms of Americans, get children back to the classroom, put money in the pocket of American families and put people back to work,” Neguse said in the video.
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado Springs, said he opposed the package.
“The American people deserve the truth about the Democrats’ spending bill,” he tweeted. “It is not coronavirus relief. It is a massive progressive wish list.”
The Colorado largesse includes:
Hilary Glasgow, executive director of Colorado WINS, the state employees’ union, said the money needs to take care of essential workers who have put their lives and families at risk .
“With this relief on the way, we need targeted investment into public services and the communities we serve — especially Black, Latino, Asian, Native and immigrant communities that have been hit hardest by this pandemic, by becoming ill, dying and losing jobs at higher rates than white Coloradans,” she stated.
After Biden signed the act into law Thursday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said the crisis worsened the nation’s existing economic disparities and called Biden’s signature a historic step. He has advocated for a child tax credit and earned income tax credit that’s included in the bill, his office said.
“This legislation is the most significant investment in American workers and families in generations, but it is only the beginning of our work to build an economy that delivers greater opportunity and security to all Americans,” Bennet said in his statement.
The state Democratic Party hailed the achievement for the Democratic president and name-checked Colorado’s senior senator.
“Democrats delivered for the American people, plain and simple,” Morgan Carroll, a former state senator and chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, said in a statement. “This groundbreaking legislation will put money in pockets, get people back to work, help get our kids back to school, support our small businesses and — thanks to Senator Michael Bennet’s American Family Act — cut childhood poverty in half. The fact that zero Republicans voted for this bill to help the people struggling is pathetic.”
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