Washington, Mar 11 (efe-epa).- President Joe Biden on Thursday signed the $1.9 trillion fiscal rescue plan bill approved by Congress, the third one implemented to counteract the severe crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The ambitious funding package thus becomes the first big legislative victory of Biden’s presidency.
“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation – working people, middle class folks, the people who build the country – a fighting chance,” Biden said at the signing ceremony in the Oval Office before putting his signature on the legislation.
“That’s what the essence of it is,” he said.
The president announced that in the coming days he will travel throughout the country to inform people of the details of the plan and to explain it directly to the public.
Despite the Democratic administration’s promises to try and forge unity with Republicans in the face of the common challenge of the pandemic, what is certain is that the new rescue package moved forward in Congress without the support of a single GOP lawmaker in either the House or the Senate.
The law includes new direct payments of $1,400 to taxpayers with an annual income of less than $75,000.
Just as in the earlier rescue packages, payments will be sent to taxpayers via direct deposit, a mailed check or prepaid debit card.
The American Rescue Plan also extends weekly $300 unemployment payments to the beginning of September, with current funding for that program expiring on March 14.
In addition, the package allocates $350 billion to state and local governments, $170 billion for reopening the country’s schools, $14 billion to strengthen the Covid vaccination plan and another $46 billion for the coronavirus testing system.
The plan pushed by Biden and Democratic lawmakers comes in addition to the $900 billion that Congress approved last December to help alleviate the health and economic crisis and the $2.2 trillion package, the largest in US history, approved in March 2020 during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump.
On Thursday, the US government said it will begin sending out the direct $1,400 payments to taxpayers “as early as this weekend.”
“People can expect to start seeing direct deposits hit their bank accounts as early as this weekend,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a briefing.
“This is, of course, just the first wave. But some people in the country will start seeing those direct deposits in their bank accounts this weekend, and payments to eligible Americans will continue throughout the course of the next several weeks,” she said The government’s idea behind the direct payments is to put money into Americans’ pockets to maintain the level of spending that the economy needs to keep functioning and recovering.
The US is the country that has been hardest hit by the pandemic with more than 529,000 Covid-19 deaths and more than 29 million confirmed coronavirus cases.