The US Congress finally gave approval on Wednesday to President Joe Biden’s nearly $1.9 trillion stimulus package despite Republicans’ unified opposition.
The House approved the bill by a vote of 220 to 211 and sent to President Biden for his signature, cementing one of the largest injections of federal aid since the Great Depression.
Under the package, direct payments will be made to Americans in addition to federal jobless benefits and billions of dollars to distribute coronavirus vaccines and provide relief for schools, states, tribal governments and small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
“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,” President Biden said in a statement.
The Democrats worked unitedly rather than haggle with Republicans who wanted to scale back the package and got the bill approved from the House and Senate without their support. But, just one Democrat, Representative Jared Golden of Maine, voted against the final measure.
“This is the most consequential legislation that many of us will ever be a party to,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a news conference after the bill’s passage.
Earlier, she had dismissed the lack of Republican support and said opponents would not hesitate to claim credit for the popular elements of the plan, saying, “it’s typical that they vote no and take the dough.”
As if to make her point, Republican Senator Roger Wicker tweeted a positive remark but did not mention that he had voted against the bill.
“I’m not going to vote for $1.9 trillion just because it has a couple of good provisions,” he later told reporters.
The package will provide $350 billion for state, local and tribal governments; $10 billion for critical state infrastructure projects; $14 billion for the distribution of vaccines; and $130 billion to primary and secondary schools. The bill also includes $30 billion for transit agencies’ $45 billion in rental, utility and mortgage assistance; and billions more for small businesses and live performance venues.
It also provides another round of direct payments to taxpayers, sending cheques of up to $1,400 to individuals making up to $80,000, single parents earning $120,000 or less and couples with household incomes of no more than $160,000.