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Biden says 'grim' jobs report shows initial COVID-19 relief deal should be 'just a start'

Biden says 'grim' jobs report shows initial COVID-19 relief deal should be 'just a start'
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President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFear of insider attack prompts additional FBI screening of National Guard troops: AP Iran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries MORE on Friday said the "grim" November jobs report underscores the need for immediate congressional action on COVID-19 relief, with further support in January.

“This is a grim jobs report. It shows an economy that is stalling. It confirms we remain in the midst of one of the worst economic and jobs crises in modern history,” Biden said in a statement after the Labor Department's monthly employment report showed U.S. job growth slowed significantly last month, adding just 245,000 new jobs.

While that figure in normal times would be considered above average, it pointed to a slowing recovery for an economy that has yet to recover about half of the 20 million jobs lost early on in the pandemic.

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Biden stressed the need for Congress to take action now to prevent millions of Americans from losing special unemployment insurance when emergency programs expire on Dec. 31, and to support struggling businesses affected by the pandemic.

While Biden has thrown his support behind a $900 billion compromise package that has gained steam in recent days, he stressed that more legislation would be needed in the new year.

“Any package passed in the lame-duck session is not enough. It’s just the start,” he said. “Congress will need to act again in January.”

Democrats have backed off their previous $2.2 trillion plan in order to support a smaller deal in the lame-duck session, and some Republicans are pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Rove: Chances of conviction rise if Giuliani represents Trump in Senate impeachment trial Boebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report MORE (R-Ky.) to increase his initial $500 billion offer. Without any new stimulus package, economists say the economy could fall into a double-dip recession and suffer from a slow, anemic recovery.

But even as the prospects of a deal in the lame-duck session have grown in recent days, the prospects of another package in January remain murky. Control of the Senate will be decided by two runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5. Democrats would need to win both to gain back control of the chamber.

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McConnell indicated on Friday that he may be open to COVID-19 relief after Biden takes office on Jan. 20.

“I think we all know that after the first of the year there is likely to be a discussion about additional — some additional package of some size next year depending upon what the new administration wants to pursue,” he said.

Jordain Carney contributed.