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Biden says 'help is on the way' as almost $1 trillion relief package speeds through US Congress

The bill approving the stimulus now goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.

File photo. Joe Biden.
File photo. Joe Biden.

THE US CONGRESS has passed a $900 billion (€736 billion) relief package to deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths.

The relief package, unveiled yesterday afternoon, sped through the House and Senate in a matter of hours.

The Senate cleared the massive package by a 92-6 vote after the House approved the Covid-19 package by another lopsided vote, 359-53.

The tallies were a bipartisan coda to months of partisanship as politicians wrangled over the relief question, a logjam that broke after President-elect Joe Biden urged his party to accept a compromise with top Republicans that is smaller than many Democrats would have liked.

The bill, which also covers $1.4 trillion (€1.15 trillion) to fund other government operations, goes to US President Donald Trump for his signature, which is expected in the coming days.

It combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses, and would establish a temporary $300 (€245) per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 (€490) direct stimulus payment to most Americans.

Also included are a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants, and theatres and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction.

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The 5,593-page legislation – by far the longest bill ever – came together on Sunday after months of battling, posturing and post-election negotiating that reined in a number of Democratic demands as the end of the congressional session approached.

Biden was eager for a deal to deliver long-awaited help to suffering people and a boost to the economy, even though it was less than half the size that Democrats wanted in the autumn.

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