House Passes Landmark $1.9T COVID Bill

The Democrat-led House passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on Wednesday on the strength of its slim majority, 220-211, setting President Joe Biden up for a signing Friday after his first prime-time address Thursday night.

House and Senate Republicans have unanimously opposed the package, calling it a bloated bill crammed with liberal policies at a time the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming manageable and the economic downturn might be easing. One Democrat voted against the bill, Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine.

"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," Biden said in a statement released shortly after the bill passed the House.

An SSRS Poll released Wednesday found 61% of Americans approve of the bill, however, and many U.S. households will get money after it is signed into law.

The bill provides up to $1,400 in direct payments to many Americans, extends emergency unemployment benefits, and allocates hundreds of billions for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and to schools, state and local governments, and ailing industries from airlines to concert halls. An eligible family of 4, for example, gets $5,600 in a direct payment, which could come days after Biden's signature.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at the daily press briefing on Wednesday that Biden plans to travel the country to promote the spending programs before returning to the White House on Friday to officially sign the bill.

The $1.9 trillion in spending amounts to $5,487 per American, Republicans noted during a 2-hour debate that dragged to around 3 hours.

Republicans also argued just 9% of the spending is targeted for COVID-19 relief and a large portion of the $1.9 trillion is deferred, diminishing the Democrats' argument this relief is immediate and urgently needed.

In addition to massive payments to schools – without forcing them to return to in-person learning, Republicans lamented – included in the bill are expanded tax credits during the next year for children, child care and family leave plus spending for renters, feeding programs and people's utility bills. Also, there is aid for farmers of color and pension systems, and subsidies for consumers buying health insurance and states expanding Medicaid coverage for lower earners.

"It's a remarkable, historic, transformative piece of legislation which goes a very long way to crushing the virus and solving our economic crisis," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Ga., used a procedural tactic to delay the final debate on the bill Wednesday, calling for a vote to adjourn and forcing all 438 members to cast a vote to keep the House in session.

Frustrated members, including 41 Republicams, struck down her motion in a 149-235 vote.

Source: Newsmax