Sperling hired to oversee COVID-19 relief plan

President Biden has selected longtime Democratic economic adviser Gene Sperling to oversee the implementation of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week, an administration official confirmed. 

Sperling served as director of the National Economic Council during the last two Democratic presidential administrations and was one of Biden’s top advisers on the economy during the 2020 presidential campaign. Sperling also served in a senior position at the Treasury Department under President Obama. He was a key player in the Obama administration’s response to the 2008 recession.

Sperling is expected to play a role similar to the one that Biden played when he oversaw implementation of the 2009 rescue package as vice president under Obama. While Sperling will help coordinate the implementation of the $1.9 trillion rescue package, other top officials will play pivotal roles, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

“Gene will work with the heads of the White House policy councils and key leaders at federal agencies so we can get funds out the door quickly, maximize its impact, and accelerate the work the administration is doing to crush COVID-19 and rescue our economy,” the administration official said, noting that the administration would work in partnership with state and local governments. 

The Washington Post and other outlets first reported Biden’s plans, which he is expected to announce as soon as Monday. Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks on the implementation of the coronavirus relief plan at the White House on Monday afternoon and will travel to Pennsylvania and Georgia later this week to highlight the legislation.

Sperling has been floated as a potential nominee for Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director after Neera Tanden was forced to withdraw her nomination earlier this month amid opposition over her past tweets criticizing Republican lawmakers. 

Biden has yet to announce a new pick for OMB. Shalanda Young, Biden’s nominee for deputy OMB director, is viewed as a top contender but it’s unclear when he will announce the choice.

Congress passed the massive $1.9 trillion package last week, and Biden signed it at the White House on Thursday. The bill includes billions of dollars in funding for local businesses, vaccine distribution and other efforts to address the pandemic and its related economic crisis in America.

It will also fund direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans and extend unemployment benefits for citizens who have been rendered unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic. The Treasury Department began sending out direct payments to Americans over the weekend.

Biden celebrated the bill at a ceremony on Friday, saying it would put working Americans first, but he acknowledged that hard work remained in ensuring that it is implemented properly.

“It’s one thing to pass the American Rescue Plan. It’s going to be another thing to implement it. It’s going to require fastidious oversight to make sure there is no waste or fraud and the law does what it’s designed to do,” Biden said in the Rose Garden alongside Democratic leaders. “We have to get this right.”

“There is a lot of work for us left to do but I know we will do it,” he continued. “To every American watching: Help is here and we will not stop working for you.” 

–Updated at 8:24 a.m.

Tags American Rescue Plan Act covid-19 stimulus bill Gene Sperling Janet Yellen Joe Biden Miguel Cardona Neera Tanden
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