The U.S. Senate on Saturday passed the American Rescue Plan, aiming to provide urgent relief to people and businesses amid the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every Democrat in the Senate voted for the legislation. No Republicans backed the $1.9 trillion plan, many calling it too expensive.
The White House said the package will deliver immediate relief to the American people—delivering $1, 400 checks to eligible individuals and families; funding a national vaccination program; extending $300 per week unemployment insurance; and providing resources for schools to safely re-open and more.
President Joe Biden spoke of how hard the deadly pandemic has been on so many Americans. He noted that, as of Friday night, 519,064 lives have been lost to the virus. More than 400,000 small businesses have closed.
“Millions of people out of work through no fault of their own. I want to emphasize that: through no fault of their own,” he said. “Food bank lines stretching for miles. Did any of you ever think you’d see that in America, in cities all across this country? Families facing the threat of eviction.”
“This nation has suffered too much for much too long,” he added.
The House of Representatives passed the measure on February 27. With the 50-49 Senate vote [GOP Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AL) was absent due to death in the family] it will return to the House, where its members are expected to revise the bill on Tuesday.
As the country faces the grave economic and public health crises, the White House said the legislation will create 7 million new jobs, cut child poverty in half, make health care more affordable, and save lives and livelihoods.
“Thank you to the Senators who voted to pass the American Rescue Plan,” said Vice President Kamala Harris in a Tweet. “Your vote gets us a step closer to giving millions of Americans the relief they need and deserve. We look forward to seeing the bill pass in the House and get to @POTUS’ desk for signature. Help is on the way.”