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President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package into law, in a move viewed as his administration’s first big political victory.

“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation — working people and middle-class folks, people who built the country — a fighting chance,” Biden said shortly before signing the measure.

“That’s what the essence of it is, and I’m going to have a lot more to say about that tonight and in the next couple of days.”

Democrats have touted the bill as both necessary to help Americans hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic that’s claimed more than half a million lives in the past year and an anti-poverty measure. Republicans have said it is bloated with unneeded spending just as the U.S. economy is set to surge with states lifting pandemic restrictions and the pace of vaccinations ramping up.

Biden previously had been scheduled to sign the American Rescue Plan Act into law on Friday, but the signing was moved up to Thursday. The house passed the American Rescue Plan Act on Wednesday in an almost entirely party-line vote similar to the 50-49 vote by which the measure passed the Senate last week.

Households are due to receive direct payments, at $1,400 per eligible family member with a phaseout starting at incomes of $75,000 for individuals. State, local and tribal governments are set to get $350 billion in federal aid. Another $7.25 billion should be added to the Paycheck Protection Program for loans to small businesses.

The package also includes money to ramp up vaccination efforts and keep an eye out for new strains of the virus, a measure which has bipartisan support. It has a one-year expanded child tax credit that proponents say will help to sharply cut the number of children raised in poverty.

In addition, it has more than $80 billion to help bail out underfunded pensions and money to help schools reopen and make in-person classes safer but that won’t be fully spent for years.

Credits: Market Watch

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