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What has Ron Klain said about the covid-19 relief bill and the launch of the vaccine?

Chief of Staff Ron Klain says the covid-19 relief bill is gaining momentum and that the administration is fixing flaws in the vaccination effort.

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What has Ron Klain said about the covid-19 relief bill and the launch of the vaccine?
JIM WATSON AFP

Ron Klain appearing on CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell answered questions regarding the administration’s ability to meet its vaccination goals, reopening schools and Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan

Klain dismissed claims that Biden's American Rescue Plan plan was “dead in the water” and on the contrary was “gaining a lot of momentum on Capitol Hill.” He also said that the Biden administration inherited a vaccination process that was flawed but that they are working to fix it and increase supply. 

Covid-19 relief bill 

Biden presented his plan for rebuilding the US and pull the country out of the pandemic induced economic crisis the week before his inauguration. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is a wide-ranging package of measures to shore up household finances, get federal loans to small businesses among many more measures. One of the most popular measures is sending out a third round of direct payments. 

Some GOP lawmakers have called the plan a liberal wish list and urged the Democrats to pass portions of the future bill separately, especially the $1400 stimulus check. O’Donnell asked Klain if it was too big, that it looked “dead in the water” and if there were any part of the plan was non-negotiable. Klain felt the contrary that the plan was "absolutely not dead in the water.” Adding that the administration had only been in office for seven days “we’ve done more in seven days than any administration in history.” 

President Joe Biden has signed more than 40 executive orders, actions and memorandums in his first week in the Oval Office more than doubling his predecessor. 

$15 per hour minimum wage 

Although the Republicans have shown support for a third round of stimulus checks, they are very much opposed to the proposed minimum wage hike to $15 per hour. Klain defended this measure pointing out that many are essential workers who are risking their lives. Looking back to the campaign trail he reminded O’Donnell of what Biden would say “It’s great to bang pots and pans for essential workers. We shouldn’t just praise them; we should pay them.” Adding that they “should be able to work for 40 hours a week and not be in poverty." 

Fighting covid-19 

Ron Klain said that the Biden administration was working with vaccine companies to ramp up production, however the process is slow. The system they inherited had flaws in process but they working to solve those to get more vaccine out.  Biden recently announced that his administration had purchased 100 million more doses each from the two vaccine producers currently approved. 

The production of vaccine in the factories is the major limiting factor according to Klain. However he said that FEMA is working with the Department of Defense to set up 100 centers around the country to increase availability of the vaccine. 10,000 troops will help to accelerate the number of doses administered which the administration plans to scale inoculations to 1.5 million per day within three weeks. 

Invoking the Defense Production Act 

Part of the way they will get to more doses in arms, Klain announced that the Biden administration has invoked the Defense Production Act to produce special syringes that will increase the supply of the coronavirus vaccine. The special syringes will be able to squeeze an extra dose out of the vials increasing the number per vial to six. The measure will also be used to speed up production of N95 masks in the face of the new strains spreading across the US. 

Reopening schools 

Biden has also made it a priority to get kids back to school but safely. Klain reiterated this that they plan to open the schools with safety gear and the necessary precaution so that schools can stay open. "It's important not just to open schools, but to keep them open. I think one of the most frustrating things to parents has been the yo-yoing of schools open, schools closed," Klain said. The CDC has reported that if safety protocols are followed there is little evidence that covid-19 is transmitted in schools. Those precautions include wearing face masks, social distancing and proper room ventilation.