U.S. SENATE PASSES BIDEN’S $1.9-TRILLION COVID BILL
The US Senate on Saturday passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan in a party-line vote after an all-night session that was delayed repeatedly as the Republican minority tried but failed to push through around three dozen amendments, Richard Cowan, Makini Brice, David Morgan reported for Reuters.
The plan passed in a 50-49 vote with the support of every Democrat but no Republicans. It is one of the largest stimulus bills in US history and gives Biden his first major legislative victory since taking office in January.
The partisan victory was made possible by Democrats winning two Senate seats in Georgia special elections in January, giving them narrow control of the chamber.
Biden said on Saturday he hoped for quick passage of the revised bill by the House of Representatives so he could sign it and start sending $1,400 direct payments to Americans.
“This plan will get checks out the door starting this month to the American people, who so desperately need the help,” Biden said at the White House after the vote.
The final bill includes $400 billion in one-time payments of $1,400 to many Americans, with a phase-out starting for those with annual incomes above $75,000.
It also includes $300 a week in extended jobless benefits for the 9.5 million people thrown out of work in the crisis.
Democrats agreed to reduce those benefits from $400 a week to secure passage in the Senate.
They want the bill signed into law before current unemployment benefits expire on March 15. About $350 billion in aid was also set aside for state and local governments that have seen the pandemic blow a hole in their budgets.