House passes $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan

Democrats handed President Biden his first big win by passing his $1.9 trillion relief package which includes checks up to $1,400 for Americans. Kris Van Cleave shares more.

Video Transcript

NORAH O'DONNELL: Good evening, and thank you for joining us. We are going to begin with breaking news. One of the largest and most sweeping economic stimulus bills in US history has been approved by Congress, and it is heading to President Biden's desk tonight. The scope of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which takes up more than 600 printed pages, is unprecedented.

In the coming weeks, tens of millions of Americans will receive $1,400 stimulus checks. Unemployment benefits will be expanded. And the cost of health insurance under Obamacare, lowered. Analysts say the bill, which passed without a single Republican vote, will also dramatically cut poverty nationwide, funding programs for food aid and housing assistance, and offering tax credits for children.

As we come on the air, the White House is celebrating the new president's first legislative victory, while Republicans are lambasting it as wasteful spending that will further inflate the national debt. And while new polling shows the majority of Americans support the plan, tonight it's clear that nearly every American will feel its impact.

We have a lot of new reporting on all of this, as well as some big news from the White House about a deal to buy 100 million more doses of coronavirus vaccine. Our team of correspondents is standing by covering it all, and CBS's Kris Van Cleave is going to lead off coverage tonight from Capitol Hill. Good evening, Kris.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Norah, Congress has now spent roughly $5.5 trillion combating the coronavirus and its economic fallout. That includes this bill, which Democrats say is as monumental as when they passed the Affordable Care Act.

NANCY PELOSI: The motion is adopted. [SLAMS GAVEL]

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: In a race to send relief before unemployment benefits expire at the end of the week, House Democrats handed President Biden his first big win, passing his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. Not a single Republican voted for the bill.

NANCY PELOSI: This is the most consequential legislation that many of us will ever be a party to.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: The bill will send Americans checks up to $1,400, billions for vaccination and school reopening efforts, while increasing the child tax credit and lowering Obamacare insurance premiums. It will also extend the weekly $300 in federal unemployment benefits through early September.

KRISTI AMBROSE: I do need help right now more than ever.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: Kristi Ambrose is anxiously waiting for her check. The Florida mother of two was laid off in November.

KRISTI AMBROSE: It's like having a huge anxiety attack every single day, trying not to cry.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: She's not alone. 70% of Americans support the COVID relief bill, including 41% of Republicans.

JOE BIDEN: This bill represents a historic, historic victory for the American people. I look forward to signing it later this week.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: But Republicans in Congress continue to rail against it, arguing nearly $400 billion in aid for transit agencies, states, and local governments, as well as $86 billion to bail out pension funds, is not COVID related.

KEVIN MCCARTHY: It isn't a relief bill. It's a laundry list of left wing priorities that predate the pandemic, and do not meet the needs of the American families.

KRIS VAN CLEAVE: The bill will now head to President Biden's desk. He's expected to sign it on Friday. As for those stimulus checks, the administration says they'll go out and by the end of the month, if not sooner, and folks who have direct deposit will likely get them first. Norah?

NORAH O'DONNELL: Kris Van Cleave, thank you.