US Congress passes Joe Bidens $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan

Clay Curtis
March 11, 2021

Congress passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, also known as the CARES Act, on Wednesday after months of stops and starts.

"This is a critical moment in our country's history", House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said before Wednesday's delayed vote.

Once he does, the IRS will officially be authorized to send a check, direct deposit, or prepaid debit card to millions of Americans who will be eligible for the third, and likely final, stimulus payment related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sprawling bill rankled Republicans, who found plenty of spending in it that they opposed.

"This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation - the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going - a fighting chance", he added.

"This plan puts us on a path to beating the virus", he said, following the Senate's vote.

Much of the attention on the 628-page bill called the American Rescue Plan - which will be financed entirely by adding to the U.S. deficit - has focused on the direct payments of up to $1,400 to many Americans and the extension of a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit until Sept 6.

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It's heading to President Biden's desk for a signature by the end of the week.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the plan "a long laundry list of left-wing priorities that predate the pandemic and do not meet the needs of the American families". However, this led to the $15 federal minimum wage increase being removed from the bill since not all Democrats agreed on it.

The bill now heads to the White House, where Biden - who made the American Rescue Plan his top legislative priority - said he will sign the measure into law on Friday.

The bill goes far beyond the direct financial payments - which will cost $420 billion of the total package - and the extension of unemployment benefits. He said that while he supports aspects of the relief bill, he was concerned about its size and scope.

Three-hundred billion is earmarked to extended federal weekly unemployment benefits - which are set to expire this week - through September 6; those who qualify will receive $300 per week. The package also allocates huge amounts of money for COVID-19 vaccines, testing and treatments, while also aiding state and local governments and schools, assisting small businesses and providing major expansions of tax breaks and programs for lower- and middle-income families. Furthermore, referring to the projected impact of the expanded child tax credit, she said, "How do you say no to lifting 50% of impoverished children in America out of poverty?"

Nevertheless, Mr Biden is signaling that he will soon hit the road on a mission to sell the package to the American people.

Biden will speak to the nation in a prime time address Thursday night and he's expected to sign the legislation on Friday.

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