US Senate passes Biden’s $1.9 trn relief plan.

The US Senate has passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus (COVID-19) relief plan following an over 25-hour session of amendment votes, according to Bloomberg. The relief bill was passed in a 50-49 vote with the support of every Democrat and the opposition of every Republican, enabling Biden to secure his first major legislative victory since taking office in January.

Democrats seek to have the second-largest stimulus bill in US history signed into law next week. The House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer referred on Twitter that a vote on the Senate-passed bill will be held on Tuesday. The bill aims to reduce the child poverty rate and provide millions of Americans with $1,400 payments soon, in addition to over $350 billion in aid for state and local governments.

The legislation also authorises $300 a week in extra unemployment aid until early September and makes the first $10,200 of unemployment insurance benefits non-taxable for households with incomes of less than $150,000.In addition, the bill dedicates $160 billion to vaccine and testing programmes to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia Manchin, a pivotal vote in the 50-50 Senate, disagreed on an amendment to extend supplemental unemployment benefits into October, causing a stalemate in the Senate for around 12 hours on Friday, 5 March. Disagreement on that amendment led to a separate vote on minimum wage, marking the longest vote in Senate history, as Democrats tried to reach a compromise.

In the end, Democrats solved the stalemate by setting the extra unemployment payments at $300 per week, a lower than the amount approved by the House, and extending the aid until early September.

Source: Mubasher

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