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House Democrats pass $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill

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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — House Democrats handed President Joe Biden his first major victory on Wednesday by passing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.  The bill is headed to the president’s desk and is expected to be signed on Friday.

The bill comes days before key federal unemployment benefits expire on March 14, bringing relief to many workers who have been impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

The bill passed along party lines on a 220-211 vote.  No Republicans voted in favor of the bill’s passage and one Democrat sided with the GOP —  Representative Jared Golden of Maine.  Those who voted against the bill voiced concern over the exorbitant price tag and how it’ll affect the American deficit.  

In addition, other critics said the bill contained additions unrelated to COVID-relief and instead dubbed them “wish list” items.

House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney said Tuesday, “We know that the results of that package are going to be middle-class tax increases, we know for sure that it includes provisions that are not targeted, they’re not temporary, they’re not related to COVID, and it didn’t have to be this way.”

Cheney called for a bill that is a “fraction of the cost” of the $1.9 trillion that was approved by Democrats, adding, “We are going to be saddled with a burden, a spending burden, and a tax burden that is really indefensible from the perspective of what it actually accomplishes.”

Said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the bill was approved, “This is a momentous day in the history of our country because we have passed historic, consequential, and transformative legislation.”

When responding to the bill’s criticism, Pelosi said, “They are so oblivious to meeting the needs of the American people and oblivious to the support that this bill has among Republicans across the country.”

The bill contains $1,400 stimulus checks for individuals making under $75,000 a year and couples earning less than $150,000.   Payments should hit bank accounts by the end of the month, says President Biden.

Families with children will also receive a $3,000 per child tax credit per year. 

Weekly jobless benefits will continue at $300 through September 6, with jobless Americans paying no taxes on the first $10,200 they receive.

State, local and tribal governments will receive $350 billion — with the budget covering contact tracing, vaccine distribution, education for K-12 school children, rental and mortgage assistance, financial support for restaurants and bars and funding for nutrition programs.

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