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Biden, Yellen discuss COVID-19 relief with national business leaders

President Joe Biden participates in an economic briefing with Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen at the White House on January 29. Biden and Yellen are hosting business leaders from around the country on Tuesday. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI
President Joe Biden participates in an economic briefing with Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen at the White House on January 29. Biden and Yellen are hosting business leaders from around the country on Tuesday. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 9 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met Tuesday with some of the country's leading chief executives to talk about his coronavirus stimulus plan currently being considered by Congress.

Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce along with Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Doug McMillon of Walmart; Sonia Syngal of Gap, and Marvin Ellison of Lowe's, all attended the meeting where Biden stressed the importance of his relief proposal.

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"The American people are hurting, a lot of people are in real, real trouble," Biden said.

During the meeting, Syngal said that she has firsthand experience witnessing who is hurt most by the pandemic as retail workers are 60% to 70% women and 60% to 70% minority, while McMillon of Walmart highlighted the importance of wage growth, CNBC reported.

Dimon discussed policies that can promote economic growth and Ellison stressed the importance of jobs.

The meeting comes after a disappointing January jobs report that revealed that only 49,000 jobs were created with an increasing number of people giving up on their job searches. Most economists had predicted the economy would create 50,000 to 100,000 jobs.

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The hefty $1.9 trillion stimulus package includes $1,400 checks to most U.S residents, funds to create vaccine centers and help for local and state governments to keep running and a $15-per-hour minimum wage.

The Chamber of Commerce has spoken out against the minimum wage hike and increasing the unemployment weekly benefits from $300 to $400, while expressing concern over the current $1 trillion annual federal deficit.

The bill is currently facing stiff opposition from House and Senate Republicans. That opposition is forcing the Democrats to consider passing the bill through what is called budget reconciliation to avoid a filibuster in the Senate.

"The president -- his first priority is getting relief to the American people," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. "I don't think the American people are particularly worried about how the direct relief gets into their hands. If [reconciliation] is the process it moves forward through, which seems likely at this point, the president would certainly support that."

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