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Congress passes $1.9T pandemic relief bill, with $1,400 checks: 'Opportunity for change'

The Democrats failed to pass a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 with no Republican supporting the idea.

Congress passes $1.9T pandemic relief bill, with $1,400 checks: 'Opportunity for change'
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sign the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on U.S. Capitol on March 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Congress passed a $1.9 trillion Coronavirus relief package that will send $1400 stimulus checks to millions of Americans. The House gave final passage to the bill with a majority of 220-211 on Wednesday after the Senate made changes to the original bill passed by the House, with a majority of 50-49 on Saturday, reported NBC News. The bill will now be sent to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature. For all the talk of being a "party of the working class," not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill that's aimed at helping people and workers get through the health and financial crisis that's paralyzed America because of the pandemic. The passing of the bill also marks the first legislative victory and a major one at that. Congress managed to pass the bill less than two months after Biden took office.  


He is expected the sign the bill into law on Friday, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. The bill will extend enhanced unemployment benefits and boost funding to ramp up vaccine distribution and reopen schools. The Democratic party and the original bill passed by the lower chamber of Congress faced multiple roadblocks in Senate with Republicans and a few Democrats joining hands to lower unemployment benefits and reduce the number of people who will be eligible to receive stimulus checks. "QAnon" Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene attempted to stall the bill by making a motion to adjourn, but the House rejected her motion and continued. She called it a "massive woke progressive" bill.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gives a thumbs up as she presides over voting on coronavirus relief package H.R. 1319 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on March 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. In a final vote, the House passed U.S. President Joe Biden's revised $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, named the American Rescue Plan, in the administration's first major legislative achievement. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Biden hailed the bill, stating it was “one more giant step forward” in delivering on his promise that help is on the way. “That means the mortgage can get paid. That means the child can stay in community college. That means maintaining the health insurance you have. It’s going to make a big difference in so many of lives in this country," said Biden.


"Opportunity for change"
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mentioned the 500,000 people who had died from the virus in America and the millions more who have lost their jobs while pointing to the significance of the bill. "This is a critical moment in our country's history," said Nancy Pelosi. "Today, we have a real opportunity for change." The Democrats voted with near-unanimity. "I am immensely proud that we will soon send this bill to President Biden's desk to be signed into law," said House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth, stressing the necessity of the bill. "We have acted with the urgency that this pandemic demands."


The bill will see individuals making under $75,000 receive $1,400 in direct payments while married couples making less than $150,000 receive $2,800. Those making up to $80,000 and joint filers up to $160,000, will get some money but not the full amount. The direct payments will include up to $1,400 per dependent, including adult dependents. The bill will also expand the annual child tax credit to $3,600 for children up to age 5 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. It will also provide $300 a week in enhanced jobless benefits through to September 6. 


When reporters questioned if there would be any more Coronavirus bills, Pelosi replied, “You’re just going to have to ask the virus — if it stops mutating, if it stops spreading and therefore mutating, then this will be. What is interesting about this virus is that it is resourceful. It mutates. It has variants. And so too must we be resourceful and resilient in how we deal with it. We will be on top of it.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also hailed the bill, stating it would make "a big difference" in the lives of Americans. "It does so much good for so many people. And one of our missions is to show people that government can actually make their lives better," said Schumer.


Republicans block $15 minimum wage
One of the major setbacks for the progressive contingent was when the Senate moved to block a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. While all Republicans voted against raising the minimum wage, a few Democrats also sided with raising the minimum wage. 


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