- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
‘Historic victory for the American people’: Biden hails COVID-19 relief bill’s passage
President Joe Biden thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for final passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, calling it a “historic victory for the American people” and hinting about a next phase of recovery to come.
“Everything in the American Rescue Plan addresses a real need,” Biden said at a vaccine announcement Wednesday, “including investments to fund our entire vaccination effort, more vaccines, more vaccinators and more vaccination sites.”
The Democratic-controlled House voted earlier in the day 220-211 to pass the Senate version of the president’s signature legislation, which will deliver $1,400 stimulus check, billions to help schools and colleges reopen and funding for vaccine distribution, among a host of other spending.
Biden said the legislation’s passage “proves we can do big things, important things, in this country.”
Biden will sign the bill into law on Friday afternoon. Before then, he’s set to deliver his first prime-time address to the country, marking the one-year anniversary of shutdowns taken across the country as the coronavirus pandemic started.
The president said he will use the occasion to “talk about what we’ve been through the last year as a country” and look ahead to the government’s next course of action to combat the pandemic.
“More importantly, I’m going to talk about what comes next. I'm going to launch the next phase of the COVID response and explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people."
Biden added: “There is light at the end of this dark tunnel of the last year. But we cannot let our guard down now or assume that victory is inevitable.”
— Joey Garrison
Pelosi, Schumer formally sign $1.9T bill
The Democratic leaders of Congress — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — formally signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill Wednesday after the House concurred with Senate changes for President Joe Biden’s signature.
“This is a momentous day in the history of our country,” Pelosi said on the sunny terrace of the west front of the Capitol, with the National Mall and Washington Monument in the background. “It would not have happened without a very collaborative spirit among our members.”
Schumer commended Senate Democrats beat back amendments from Republicans, who all opposed legislation in both chambers.
“We were a seamless web and we worked together,” Schumer said of the Senate and House working together. “We say to America: Help is on the way. You will receive $1,400 checks by the end of March.”
“Vaccines will be available far more quickly to far more quickly in a shorter time,” Schumer added. “Our schools will open safely and more quickly than we thought.”
The leaders were joined by other leaders including committee chairmen from both chambers.
— Bart Jansen
Biden to sign COVID-19 relief bill into law Friday, ‘hit the road’ to tout benefits
President Joe Biden will sign his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan into law Friday afternoon following its passage in the House on Wednesday.
The president will then go on a victory lap, traveling outside Washington to tout the benefits of the American Rescue Plan directly to the American people.
“We’re, of course, moving full speed ahead on the implementation of the bill because we know the American people need help and need it as soon as possible,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Wednesday press briefing.
Psaki said Biden intends to appoint an individual to oversee the implementation of the bill but a personnel decision has not been made.
In the coming days and weeks, Psaki said Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, will each be “hitting the road” to engage with the public on the relief package. That’s in addition to other forms of message to tout the plan.
“All sending a message that help is on the way,” Psaki said. “We’ll be emphasizing a number of components that are in the package and really having a conversation – this is important to the president personally – directly with people about how they can benefit.”
Biden and White House aides who worked under former President Barack Obama administration have expressed regret for not explaining how the passage of Obama’s stimulus plan in 2009 helped Americans.
— Joey Garrison
COVID-19 packages: 3 relief bills have added thousands to US incomes
House passes COVID-19 stimulus plan, sending bill to Biden for signature
WASHINGTON – The House passed President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package Wednesday, sending the bill with $1,400 checks, billions to help schools and colleges reopen, and funding for vaccine distribution to the president for his signature.
The bill sailed through the House despite complaints from progressive Democrats who believed too many concessions were made to more moderate Democrats when the bill passed Senate on Saturday. The final vote was 220-211, with one Democrat — Rep. Jared Golden of Maine — voting against the bill and all Republicans opposing it.
The House vote was the final legislative hurdle. The legislation's final passage concludes a months-long process beginning with Biden's introduction of the plan in mid-January.
The bill, one of Biden’s signature legislative priorities, delivers on his promise to send aid to millions of Americans grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Democrats say the bill is one of the largest anti-poverty bills in a generation.
— Nicholas Wu
1 Democrat opposed in early voting
Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, voted against the COVID-19 stimulus legislation, saying it would borrow and spend far more than is needed.
“Borrowing and spending hundreds of billions more in excess of meeting the most urgent needs poses a risk to both our economic recovery and the priorities I would like to work with the Biden administration to achieve, like rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and fixing our broken and unaffordable healthcare system,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
— Bart Jansen
Pelosi: ‘Help is on the way’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the legislation “a force for fairness and justice in America” that would deliver $1 trillion into people’s pockets and provide assistance to schools and businesses to reopen safely.
“It is one of the most transformative and historic bills any of us have ever had the opportunity to support,” Pelosi said of her 30 years in Congress, saying it was the most consequential legislation since the Affordable Care Act a decade ago.
“Today we have a decision of tremendous consequence, a decision that will make a difference for millions of Americans, saving lives and livelihoods,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi noted that the vote comes a day before the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. At that point, 1,000 Americans had been infected and 38 died. In the year since, nearly 30 million Americans have been infected and more than 500,000 died – more than in combat in all U.S. wars against foreign enemies, she said.
“We will get to work immediately to deliver life-saving resources springing from this bill as soon as it is passed and signed, as we join President Biden in his promise that at last help is on the way,” Pelosi said.
— Bart Jansen
Treasury will sign the checks: 'Not about him': Biden's name won't appear on stimulus checks in shift from Donald Trump
Vote on COVID stimulus bill imminent as debate draws to an end
Democratic and Republican lawmakers made a final plea on the massive spending COVID-19 legislation on the House floor Wednesday.
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., implored his Republican colleagues to vote on the $1.9 trillion package, citing the popularity of the bill among American citizens.
“I regret that the overwhelming support that I just described has not been translated into unity in this chamber. This is bipartisan in America, even if it's not bipartisan in this chamber,” he said.
Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., called the legislation a “progressive wish list forced down by the Democrat party.”
Continuing to slam Democrats for calling the legislation progressive themselves, Smith described it as excessive and said, “Democrats made a choice: a choice to put their own partisan political ambitions ahead of the needs of the working class. Ahead of the needs of the American people. When our Democrat colleagues speak of unity, they mean keeping their party together, not pulling this country together.
“That is why we have before us this wrong plan at the wrong time for so many wrong reasons,” he continued.
Citing poverty “exasperated by COVID-19”, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C. said, “I call upon my Republican colleagues to stop their march madness and show some compassion for their constituents who are less than wealthy.”
— Savannah Behrmann
Debate starts in the House over COVID-19 stimulus bill
Debate began in the House on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, setting the stage for its final passage Wednesday.
The House started two hours of debate on amendments made to the legislation, known as the American Rescue Plan. The legislation narrowly passed the Senate last week; both chambers of Congress must approve the same version.
The Senate had amended the stimulus bill to include a $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit through August. The change is an adjustment to the legislation passed in the House, which sought to increase the benefits to $400 a week.
The Senate also made a major change that will limit who will be getting $1,400 stimulus checks.
Democrats are expected to pass the bill in the House, but with no Republicans on board and some progressives upset with the changes. House Democrats can only afford to lose four votes and still pass the bill. Two Democrats voted against the House's version of the bill when it passed last week.
– Savannah Behrmann
GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene delays House debate on stimulus bill
Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene forced the House to delay debating and voting on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 stimulus bill on Wednesday by forcing a vote to adjourn House proceedings ahead of the debate.
Making a motion to adjourn is a procedural move that makes every lawmaker come to the floor and vote for or against keeping Congress in session that day.
Speaking from the House floor, Greene said, “This Congress is ramming through unbelievable things at a rapid pace. This must be stopped. We have to give pause and consideration to what we are doing.”
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., called the delay “unconscionable.”
“I quite frankly think it’s unconscionable that they are doing everything they can to try to again delay getting aid to people, including their constituents, who are in desperate need,” McGovern said. “I’m counting the minutes. But people need the help.”
Every Democrat and a swathe of Republicans across the ideological spectrum voted against Greene’s effort. Dozens of Republicans, including Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Crenshaw, Greg Pence and Virginia Foxx, all voted with Democrats.
— Savannah Behrmann
Democrats appear confident they'll pass Biden's COVID relief bill
House Democrats appeared confident they would pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill in a crucial Wednesday vote likely to be a milestone in Joe Biden's presidency, one hinging on his ability to lead America out of the coronavirus crisis.
The House expects to hold a morning vote on Biden's chief piece of legislation, the American Rescue Plan, which includes $1,400 stimulus checks, billions for vaccines, and money to reopen schools.
Its final passage will cap months of negotiations, beginning when Biden introduced his plan in mid-January before he took office. Along the way, the bill faced united opposition from Republicans, misgivings from moderate Democrats and progressives and multiple legislative hurdles.
The legislation is anticipated to pass without any Republican support in the Democratic-majority House, unlike previous COVID relief plans that drew bipartisan support over the past year.
Democrats are likely to stay united around the legislation, despite complaints from progressives about compromises made in the Senate's version of the legislation. Two Democrats voted against the bill when its first version passed the House two weeks ago, but one of the lawmakers, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., said Monday he would support the bill.
And a progressive Democrat, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., who expressed concerns about voting for the final legislation, said Tuesday she would support it.
Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday he was "110% confident" they had the votes to pass the legislation, and Pelosi said she was not concerned about losing any more Democrats on the vote.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., told reporters, "I think we only lost two on the first time and I think we at least cut it in half this time," referring to Schrader.
Republicans in Congress lined up in opposition to the bill, denouncing it as full of provisions not related to COVID-19 and questioning whether another $1.9 trillion package was needed after Congress authorized a $900 billion package in December.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., slammed the bill as full of provisions “not targeted, not temporary, not related to COVID.”
Once the House passes the bill, Biden is expected to sign it shortly after. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday the $1,400 stimulus payments could start going out "this month" after the bill is signed.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID stimulus updates: Biden will sign American Rescue Plan on Friday