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International

US Senate passes Biden’s $1tr covid relief bill

The bill allocates $350 billion to state and local governments, and some $130 billion to schools.

The Covid relief bill proposed by the President of United States Joe Biden has been approved by Senate. The bill designates $1 trillion to the health sector and other activities to curb Covid-19.

The bill was approved in the Senate despite all the Republicans opposing it. Previously approved by the House of Representatives will get final approval by the members on Tuesday.

Biden described the Senate vote as “one more giant step forward” in delivering the promise to help people.

America’s worst public health crisis in a century has left nearly 523,000 people dead and 29 million infected, with a current unemployment rate of 6.2%.

This relief package is the third one released so far to help Americans, envisages one-off payments worth $1,400 to be sent to most Americans. President Biden said such payments could start being distributed later this month.

Republicans say the plan is too costly. Some Democrats have also voiced criticism of certain provisions and the party’s leadership was forced to make a number of compromises, notably the lowering of federal unemployment benefit from $400 to $300 a week. The benefit will be extended until 6 September under the plan.

President Biden said,

“It obviously wasn’t easy. It wasn’t always pretty. But it was so desperately needed, urgently needed.”

He added that he hoped for a quick passage of the bill in the House so that he could sign it into law.

President Biden calls this package “American Rescue Plan” which allocates $350 billion to state and local governments, and some $130 billion to schools.

It would also provide $49 billion for expanded Covid-19 testing and research, as well as $14b billion for vaccine distribution.

The $1,400 stimulus cheques will be quickly phased out for those with higher incomes – at $75,000 for a single person and for couples making more than $150,000.

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