Biden Signs $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill
The White House says $1,400 checks to many Americans under the bill could begin arriving as soon as this weekend. The bill also directs funding to schools, businesses and vaccine distribution.
President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the $1.9 trillion relief package that he says will help the U.S. defeat the coronavirus and nurse the economy back to health.
The signing came hours before he planned to deliver his first prime-time address to the American public on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.
"This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation — working people and middle-class folks, the people who built the country — a fighting chance. That’s what the essence of it is," Biden said.
In January, the White House announced its American Rescue Plan relief package, that aims to bolster the country's recovery from the pandemic.
On Wednesday, Congress gave final approval to that legislation, which will send a new round of financial support to Americans in the form of direct payments, extended unemployment benefits and an expanded child tax credit.
The White House says $1,400 checks to many Americans under the bill could begin arriving as soon as this weekend.
The bill also directs funding to schools, businesses and vaccine distribution.
Biden originally planned to sign the bill on Friday, but it arrived at the White House sooner than anticipated.
Republican lawmakers universally opposed the plan in the House and the Senate, criticizing the proposal as a Democratic wish list with few provisions related to COVID-19. Meanwhile, Democrats have praised the bill's potential to create a new social safety net.
Thursday's address comes exactly one year after the World Health Organization first declared the coronavirus crisis a global pandemic. Since then, more than 520,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States.
Biden has made confronting the virus the top priority for his administration — and according to a recent NPR/PBS/Marist poll, a majority of Americans approve of how he's handled the pandemic so far. That includes 30% of Republicans and 22% of supporters of former President Trump surveyed.
Since vaccine distribution began in the United States in December, more than 93 million doses have been administered, reaching about 18.4% of the total U.S. population. Last month, the FDA authorized emergency use of a third vaccine option that requires just one shot.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.