WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — When President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan on Thursday night, a number of people were surprised to learn stimulus checks would be $1,400 and not the $2,000 figure tossed around in previous weeks.
Among those people caught off guard was high-profile Democratic lawmaker Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
″$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,” The New York lawmaker told The Washington Post.
While the price tag on the plan is the highest we’ve seen for a coronavirus relief measure, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is part of a group that feels the amount of the check wasn’t what was promised in recent weeks by Biden and soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Biden explained the $2,000 figure during Thursday’s announcement of the relief plan.
“We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in direct relief to people who need it the most,” Biden said. “$600 is simply not enough if you still have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.”
The president-elect is referring to a recently passed $600 direct payment that’s currently in the process of being distributed to most Americans.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, a close ally of Ocasio-Cortez, tweeted Friday morning that “the American people are struggling to make ends meet and need relief. We must immediately pass $2,000 survival checks.”
Newly-elected Rep. Cori Bush sent a tweet that simply read, “$1,400 ≠ $2,000.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders had been a big proponent of the $2,000 direct payment. In the hours following the announcement of the relief package proposal, he only had positive things to say about the plan.
“President-elect Biden has put forth a very strong first installment of an emergency relief plan that will begin to provide desperately needed assistance to tens of millions of working families facing economic hardship during the pandemic,” Sanders said in a statement.
The coronavirus relief plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back hiring and lay off workers.
Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.
About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.