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US Congress approves Covid-19 relief package, giving green light to stimulus checks of up to $1,400

The $1.9 trillion plan was approved today in the US.

File image of Joe Biden last week.
File image of Joe Biden last week.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

THE US CONGRESS has passed Joe Biden’s enormous Covid-19 economic relief package.

The $1.9 trillion (€1.6 trillion) plan funds Covid-19 vaccines and sends stimulus checks of up to $1,400 (€1,174) to most Americans.

The House gave final congressional approval to the sweeping package by a near party line 220-211 vote seven weeks after Joe Biden entered the White House and four days after the Senate passed the Bill without a single Republican vote.

The White House said Biden planned to sign the measure into law on Friday, days before unemployment benefits were scheduled to expire for millions of people.

Republican lawmakers opposed the package as bloated, crammed with liberal policies and not taking heed of signs the pandemic crisis is easing.

It will extend $300 dollar (€250) per week emergency unemployment benefits into early September.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “It’s a remarkable, historic, transformative piece of legislation which goes a very long way to crushing the virus and solving our economic crisis.”

A dominant feature of the Bill is initiatives making it one of the biggest federal thrusts in years to assist lower- and middle-income families.

Included are expanded tax credits over the next year for children, childcare and family leave plus spending for renters, feeding programmes and people’s utility bills.

There is aid for farmers of colour and pension systems, as well as subsidies for consumers buying health insurance and states expanding Medicaid coverage for lower earners.

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Its very expansiveness is a chief talking point for Republicans.

Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana said: “It’s not focused on Covid relief. It’s focused on pushing more of the far-left agenda.”

- Additional reporting by AFP.

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