WASHINGTON: On Wednesday, the US Congress finally approved the massive economic relief package provided by Joe Biden, achieving a resounding victory for the President of the United States and giving what he called a “combat opportunity” for millions of families and businesses who suffered during the coronavirus pandemic.
The $ 1.9 trillion plan, the most famously under preparation, is one of the largest US bailouts ever and will affect every aspect of the world’s largest economy for years to come.
Democrats say they have faced a historic moment in crisis head-on, as they diverted federal dollars into vaccine distributions, incentive checks of up to $ 1,400 for most Americans, stretching unemployment benefits to millions and expanding government funding for healthcare.
The measure passed narrowly in the House of Representatives by a vote of 220-211, with no support from Republicans, who accuse Biden of abandoning his inaugural pledge to unite the divided nation.
But with Republicans standing in opposition, progressive Democrats and moderates held together and walked the measure across the finish line days before critical unemployment benefits expired.
The bill, which the Senate approved last weekend, is now heading to the White House, with Biden – which has made the US bailout a top legislative priority – that he plans to sign the measure into law on Friday.
“This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the workers who built this country, the people who kept this country going – a chance to fight,” the president said in a statement after the vote.
Minutes ago, cheers and applause rose from the ground as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the passage of the measure.
“This is a defining moment in the history of our country,” said the prominent Democrat in Congress. “Help is on the way – for the people and for the children.”
The bill extends evictions and foreclosures, pours billions of dollars into state and local governments, provides aid to small businesses weakened by the epidemic, increases food aid and allocates $ 130 billion to schools.
Democrats argue that expanding the children’s tax credit in the bill would reduce child poverty by up to 50%.
Republican lawmakers have denounced what they call the “socialist agenda” of the bill and its enormous cost, saying that more than 90% are not going to fight Covid-19 directly.
A member of Congress warned that the price of $ 1.9 trillion amounts to $ 5,487 for every man, woman and child in the country.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy described the plan as “a long list of left-wing priorities that preceded the pandemic and does not meet the needs of American families.”
But Americans outside Washington see it very differently, with polls showing overwhelming bipartisan support for the bill.
However, Biden indicates that he will soon embark on a mission to sell the package to the American people.
Biden on Tuesday visited a company described as the oldest hardware store in Washington, which has taken advantage of the Donald Trump’s paycheck protection program to help companies stay afloat during the crisis.
“We’ll continue with this,” Biden said of the PPP, speaking with store owner Mike Siegel.
Management says it will design the program to focus on companies with 20 or fewer employees.
The last Congressional plan to combat the Coronavirus, which has so far left more than 528,000 deaths in the United States and caused the economy to kneel, was implemented in December.
It expanded unemployment payments and extended them through March 14.
That deadline loomed on the horizon as Biden and Democrats in Congress drafted their latest package, but the new measure is set to extend benefits until early September.
Democratic leaders hailed the US bailout as historic and transformative.
The Progressive Democrats had paid for a higher $ 400 unemployment supplement, but after a last-minute confrontation with a moderate Democrat, the Senate kept the payments at $ 300 a week.
With the law likely to be passed, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development sharply raised its 2021 global growth forecast on Tuesday amid dramatically improving economic outlook.
The US economy is expected to rise 6.5% this year, nearly double its previous forecast.