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Gene Sperling to oversee $1.9 trillion stimulus

President Biden speaks about the American Rescue Plan Friday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looks on.
President Biden speaks about the American Rescue Plan Friday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looks on. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

President Biden has tapped Gene Sperling, a longtime Democratic economic policy expert, to oversee the implementation of his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, according to people familiar with the matter.

Sperling’s position could be announced as soon as Monday, when Biden delivers remarks on implementing the relief, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the selection.

The White House declined to comment, and Sperling did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Politico reported earlier that Sperling was under consideration for the job.

Sperling served as the director of the National Economic Council, a White House office, during the Clinton and Obama administrations, and he served as an economic adviser for Biden’s campaign.

Sperling had been considered a possible candidate to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget after Neera Tanden withdrew her nomination, but the White House instead will tap him to oversee the American Rescue Plan. Biden signed the bill into law on Thursday after it passed the House and Senate without any Republican support.

The package includes $1,400 stimulus checks for millions of Americans, child tax credits, state and local aid, money to help schools to reopen and funds to aid in distributing the vaccine.

Biden himself served a similar role under President Barack Obama, overseeing the implementation of Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package as the nation was recovering from the economic collapse of 2008. The president often cites that experience when discussing the importance of accountability when stimulus funds are spent.

Sperling’s role could be crucial to the public’s assessment of the relief package and ultimately the Biden presidency. With a flood of nearly $2 trillion in government spending, problems and mistakes are always a possibility, and Republicans will be on the lookout for examples of misspent funds.

Biden, Vice President Harris and their spouses are kicking off a nationwide tour this week to sell the relief package, seeking to avoid the mistakes Biden and other Democrats believe Obama made in not being direct enough about the benefits of the 2009 stimulus package.

The federal government could face hurdles in administering the programs because of the sheer scale of the package, one of the largest economic relief programs in American history. Much of the work will fall to the Internal Revenue Service, which will need to handle the distribution of expanded child tax credits.

Americans have already started to receive stimulus checks through direct deposit, but the other elements of the relief could take months to dole out. One signal of the challenges that lie ahead: Billions of dollars from relief packages passed under the Trump administration still have not been distributed.

Jeff Stein contributed to this report.

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