Great victory for president Joe Biden: US Congress on Wednesday passed the enormous Covid-19 economic relief package --the greatest support program since the end of World War II--, which will inject billions to families and businesses.
The US$ 1.9 trillion plan, which funds Covid-19 vaccines and sends stimulus checks of up to US$ 1,400 to most Americans, passed the House of Representatives with zero support from Republicans, who accused Biden of abandoning his Inauguration Day pledge to unify the nation.
The White House said Biden, who made the American Rescue Plan his top legislative priority, planned to sign the measure into law on Friday, days before unemployment benefits were scheduled to expire for millions of people.
The measure provides US$400 billion for US$1,400 direct payments to most Americans, US$350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit and increased funding for vaccine distribution. Forecasters expect it to supercharge the US economic recovery.
“Help is here,” Biden wrote in a tweet after the vote.
Approval by a 220-211 vote in the Democratic-controlled chamber came with zero Republican support after weeks of partisan debate and wrangling in Congress. Democrats described the legislation as a critical response to a pandemic that has killed more than 528,000 people and thrown millions out of work.
Republicans said the measure was too costly and was packed with wasteful progressive priorities. They said the worst phase of the largest public health crisis in a century has largely passed and the economy is headed towards a rebound.
Democrats were eager to get the final Bill to Biden’s desk for his signature before current enhanced federal unemployment benefits expire on March 14. However despite the partisan vote, the Bill is popular with the public. A Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll, conducted March 8-9, showed that 70% of Americans support the plan, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans. Among Republicans, five out of 10 say they support the plan, while nine out of 10 Democrats supported it.