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Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill wins final approval in House

CoronavirusMar 10, 2021 07:32PM ET
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3/3 © Reuters. The U.S. Capitol is seenas the House prepares to debate the Senate's version of U.S. President Biden's COVID-19 relief plan in Washington 2/3

By Susan Cornwell and Makini Brice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval on Wednesday to one of the largest economic stimulus measures in American history, a sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that gives President Joe Biden his first major victory in office.

The measure provides $400 billion for $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit and increased funding for vaccine distribution. Forecasters expect it to supercharge the U.S. economic recovery.

"Help is here," Biden wrote in a tweet after the vote. The White House said he plans to sign the bill on Friday.

Approval by a 220-211 vote in the Democratic-controlled chamber came with zero Republican support after weeks of partisan debate and wrangling in Congress. Democrats described the legislation as a critical response to a pandemic that has killed more than 528,000 people and thrown millions out of work.

"This is a historic day. It is the beginning of the end of the great COVID depression," Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement that passage of the legislation was a pivotal day for the U.S. economy and would speed its recovery.

But Republicans said the measure was too costly and was packed with wasteful progressive priorities. They said the worst phase of the largest public health crisis in a century has largely passed and the economy is headed toward a rebound.

"It's the wrong plan at the wrong time for so many wrong reasons," Republican Representative Jason Smith said.

Nevertheless, before final passage, Democrats predicted that Republicans would tout the benefits of the bill to constituents, despite their lock-step opposition in the House and Senate.

Indeed, Republican Senator Roger Wicker wrote on Twitter: "This funding will ensure small businesses can survive the pandemic by helping to adapt their operations and keep their employees on the payroll."

Democrats were eager to get the final bill to Biden's desk for his signature before current enhanced federal unemployment benefits expire on Sunday.

POPULAR SUPPORT

Although many Republicans supported coronavirus relief under former President Donald Trump's administration, no Republican lawmaker voted for the bill in the House or Senate.

But the bill is popular with the public. A Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll, conducted March 8-9, showed that 70% of Americans support the plan, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans. Among Republicans, five out of 10 say they support the plan, while nine out of 10 Democrats supported it.

The legislation could have high stakes for both parties. If it succeeds in giving the economy a major boost, the plan could improve Democrats' political fortunes as they attempt to hold their slim majorities in Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.

Only one House Democrat, Jared Golden of Maine, voted against the package, saying its high borrowing costs endangered the recovery.

The version passed by the Senate in an marathon weekend session removed a $15-per-hour federal minimum wage increase by 2025; tightened the eligibility for $1,400 direct payments, capping them at those earning below $80,000, cut the unemployment insurance payment to $300 per week from the House's $400 and targeted some of the state and local government aid to smaller communities.

States that voted for Trump in the November election are due to get a larger amount of education and child-care aid per resident than those that backed Biden, according to estimates from two congressional committees.

Residents of Republican-leaning states, which tend to have lower household incomes, also are likely to get larger stimulus checks and tax breaks as well, according to an independent research group.

The massive spending push is seen as a major driver, coupled with a quickening pace of COVID-19 vaccinations and a slowing infection rate, in a brightening outlook for the economy.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) this week pegged 2021 economic output growth at 8.1%. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday predicted U.S. growth would top 6% this year, up from an estimate of around 3% three months ago.

With the COVID-19 aid bill now completed, attention turns to Biden's next round of major legislation, including massive infrastructure investments, immigration reforms and climate change initiatives.

While conservatives bridled at the $1.9 trillion cost of the COVID-19 bill, it could be possible to get Republican buy-in on immigration and climate change legislation in the Senate, said Paul Sracic, a political science professor at Youngstown State University.

But getting enough Republican support for Democratic initiatives to propel them to passage will be a challenge and "anything that gets 60 votes in the Senate is likely to be a problem with progressive Democrats in the House," Sracic added.

Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill wins final approval in House
 

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Comments (17)
Viking Fire
Viking Fire Mar 11, 2021 6:15AM ET
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Time to put yet another major economic disaster every 5 to 10 years behind us. Lets all hope we can go a few without one.
Babak Sharifzadeh
Babak Sharifzadeh Mar 10, 2021 9:40PM ET
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over 8 percent gdp estimates for the year and everyone is screaming market crashsome people must live losing money in the market. buying puts in spy . lol
Daniel Park
Daniel Park Mar 10, 2021 5:50PM ET
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How much longer do I have to buy SPY puts until it goes the down.
Thapelo Ramahlo
Thapelo Ramahlo Mar 10, 2021 1:48PM ET
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I need market Direction
Cal Lowe
Cal Lowe Mar 10, 2021 11:22AM ET
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Doomsday ensue if it is signed
Grant Johnson
Grant Johnson Mar 10, 2021 11:22AM ET
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do you understand what the word doomsday means?
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Mar 10, 2021 10:38AM ET
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They can print, sell bonds or raise tax for this. They can still sell bonds But after a while(maybe 2 years) they have to raise tax.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Mar 10, 2021 10:38AM ET
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they?  who is they?  Trump signed 2 Covid relief bills totalling $3.9T and republicans never complained about how that will cause a tax increase.....funny all of the sudden the republicans all care about budget deficit now a democrat is in the white house.......fun fact no.1, the last time we have a balanced federal budget, a democrat was the president............fun fact no. 2, in the last 44 years GOP presidents had far more budget deficits (thus adding to national debt) in their 24 years then democrat presidents in their 20 years
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Mar 10, 2021 10:25AM ET
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Sad how much money is actually for covid 19 help for families. I also marvel when I think how long would it take if they Republicans and Democrats had a vote on pay raised for themselves?
Alex Chan
Alex Chan Mar 10, 2021 10:16AM ET
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#wealth redistribution is now a thing that can be accomplished with the smallest of congressional vote margins
Samantha Sa
Samantha Sa Mar 10, 2021 10:16AM ET
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As opposed to the Fed's monthly purchase of 120 billion in corporate bonds and mortgage securities that has produced record breaking stock market returns in less than a year?
John Klan
John Klan Mar 10, 2021 10:11AM ET
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Less than 10 percent goes towards anything covid related. The rest is Democrat pork for unions ad Democrat states bailouts. Might as well shoot it into a black hole out in the cosmos.
Chris Fran
Chris Fran Mar 10, 2021 10:11AM ET
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name the other 90 where it is going?
Alex Chan
Alex Chan Mar 10, 2021 10:11AM ET
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unequivocal proof you can buy votes with money 💰💰💰
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Mar 10, 2021 10:11AM ET
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didn't work for president orange with the the first $3T Covid relief bill, and that's with his insistence of putting his name on the covid check
Will Back
Will Back Mar 10, 2021 9:46AM ET
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exelent
Casador Del Oso
Casador Del Oso Mar 10, 2021 9:36AM ET
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This is the last stimulus package. Next will be business tax increases to pay for all the pork. Of course this will increase the cost of living for all consumers.
Amy Carbob
Amy Carbob Mar 10, 2021 9:36AM ET
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No needfor this except funds to distribute vaccines and save salon and restaurant owners in california hurt by newsom. Most are workint . This will just bring on inflation
Chris Fran
Chris Fran Mar 10, 2021 9:36AM ET
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10MM unemployed? you're high
Evan Ault
Evan Ault Mar 10, 2021 8:19AM ET
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pfttt....early win? lol... how many months has it taken while they wasted time on things like.... oh i dunno... impeachment of a private citizen? I'm not even arguing that stimulus was needed, I am just saying to call this an "early win" is devoid of reality.
Chris Fran
Chris Fran Mar 10, 2021 8:19AM ET
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there will be 3y and 10mo of winning coming dawg
Adrian White
Adrian White Mar 10, 2021 8:19AM ET
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Evan, you still haven't educated yourself. No "private citizen" was impeached. Trump was impeached while he was still president. It's the House that impeaches a president. He was a private citizen during the Senate Trial, AFTER he had already been impeached. But that's old news now. As for this being an early win, sure it is. Trump didn't get any major legislation passed until well into his 2nd year.
Scott Davanzo
Scott Davanzo Mar 10, 2021 7:31AM ET
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More taxes later
Catholic Man
CatholicMan Mar 10, 2021 7:24AM ET
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Printing money is not the solution.
Don Licio Lucchesi
DonLucchesi Mar 10, 2021 7:24AM ET
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no one is printing money. do your research correctly
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Mar 10, 2021 6:28AM ET
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An immigration/border crisis and now a debt crisis in the making. Funny how the meaning of "win" gets inverted. Not even 2 months in and already 2 major crisis created. The US will be in flames by the end of the year
Casador Del Oso
Casador Del Oso Mar 10, 2021 6:28AM ET
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Truer words were never spoken.
Chris Fran
Chris Fran Mar 10, 2021 6:28AM ET
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you don't think 527K dead from covid is not a crisis. éstas loca chiquita!
Samantha Sa
Samantha Sa Mar 10, 2021 6:28AM ET
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What you mean NOW a debt crisis? The debt crisis was one of the reasons that got Trump elected and that was made worse in record time with corporate tax rate cuts in 2017.  By the end of 2019, the national debt was at an all  time high even though Trump repeatedly lied that it was lower than when Obama was president.
 
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