Congress Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill
Congress approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Wednesday.
“Help is here,” President Joe Biden tweeted after the vote. According to the Associated Press, Biden said he would sign the proposal Friday.
The U.S. House voted 220-211 in favor of the bill with Democrats calling the approval a major victory and Republicans arguing that the bill included liberal policies.
“Today we have a decision to make of tremendous consequence,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “a decision that will make a difference for millions of Americans, saving lives and livelihoods.”
The measure would provide direct payments to Americans this year, AP News reports. A single taxpayer would receive $1,400 and a married couple that files jointly would receive $2,800 plus $1,400 per dependent. The cap for individuals to receive the full payment is $75,000 annually and $150,000 for married couples.
Weekly emergency unemployment benefits, about $300, would also extend into early September.
Also part of the package is about $130 billion to schools to help reduce class sizes, buy personal protective equipment, hire more nurses and janitors and install better ventilation systems.
Restaurants and bars across the country would receive about $28.6 billion in grants to help businesses hurt by the pandemic cover payroll, utilities, rent and other operational costs.
The measure also provides about $50 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and another $15 billion to accelerate the distribution of vaccines.
Another highlight is that the relief package provides thousands of dollars in tax breaks to people. The Earned Income Tax Credit, usually worth between $500 to $1,500, would also be made available to people without children for the first time.
Critics say the bill does not include the Hyde Amendment, the budget bill amendment that prevents federal tax dollars from being used to pay for abortion, CBN News reports.
"A large majority of Americans are in favor of keeping abortion legal but would want some restrictions attached to it," said Dr. Richard Mouw, a spokesman for the Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden group. "Right now we feel like the best thing that we can advocate is not to lose the restrictions that we already have."
Some Republicans said the bill included much-needed help to Americans, but that the measure was also too costly.
“I’m not going to vote for $1.9 trillion just because it has a couple of good provisions,” said Republican Senator Roger Wicker, of Mississippi.
The national debt is nearing $22 trillion, according to the Associated Press.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Staff
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.