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International

US Congress passes Biden’s $1.9tn bill

“The bill “is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country,” said Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden’s Covid relief bill worth $1.9 trillion has been cleared from final stage- getting approval from Congress- on Wednesday. The bill endeavours to help Americans with the impact of the pandemic.

The House of Representatives approved the massive economic aid plan 220-211 along partisan lines, with no Republicans voting in favour.

The minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour became a sticking point in the Senate and did not make it into the final version of the bill.

This is the sixth bill favouring Americans fight catastrophe caused by Covid. The bill was passed with one Democrat against it.

The White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the president will sign the bill into law on Friday.

The bill “is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance,” President Biden said.

He later vowed to share any surplus Covid-19 vaccines globally after ensuring that Americans are immunised.

“If we have a surplus, we’re going to share it with the rest of the world,” Mr. President added.

The final bill includes one-off direct payments worth $1,400 to be sent off to most Americans.

It extends weekly jobless benefit payments of $300 until September.

It also allocates $350bn to state and local governments, some $130bn to school reopening, $49bn for expanded Covid-19 testing and research, as well as $14bn for vaccine distribution.

A proposal to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour became a sticking point in the Senate and did not make it into the final version of the bill.

A March Pew Research Centre poll found that 70% of US adults surveyed expressed support for the bill, including 41% of Republicans.

Democrats – who control both chambers of Congress by narrow margins – largely stuck together and managed to retain most of what was initially proposed.

Republicans in Congress objected to the bill’s huge budget.

They have called for various elements of the package to be smaller and more targeted, including suggesting stimulus cheques should not go to people who have not lost income in the past year.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said it was the most expensive single bill in the history of the United States.

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