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House votes to send $1.9 trillion COVID relief package to Biden for signature

The House voted 220-211 on Wednesday to approve the Senate's revised version of President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, sending the bill to Biden's desk to be signed.

Why it matters: The passage of the "American Rescue Plan" is the first — and potentially defining — legislative victory of Biden's presidency, marking a key milestone in his pledge to steer the U.S. out of the coronavirus crisis.

The big picture: The package is being touted by Democrats as one of the most consequential anti-poverty bills of the modern era, with the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center projecting that it will boost incomes for the poorest 20% of Americans by 20%.

  • Current unemployment benefits expire for millions of Americans in less than a week, a deadline that pushed Congress to act quickly on one of the largest spending packages in U.S. history.
  • Polling shows the bill enjoys widespread bipartisan support within the general public, though some experts worry that massive injection of stimulus into the recovering economy might result in inflation.

How we got here: The massive spending package was passed via budget reconciliation, a process that allows the Senate to approve legislation with a simple majority vote, rather than the usual 60-vote threshold.

  • Had Democrats not clinched control of the Senate by winning the two runoff elections in Georgia in January, the size of the package — if one existed at all — would have been far smaller.
  • The bill passed in the Senate last week 50-49 after a marathon of late-night amendments, which only began after Republicans forced the clerk read the entire 628-page bill out loud — a process that took 11 hours.
  • The House vote fell almost exactly along party lines, with one Democrat — Rep. Jared Golden of Maine — voting "no."

Details: The bill approves $1,400 stimulus payments for individuals making up to $75,000 and couples making $150,000. It will also extend weekly $300 unemployment insurance until Sept. 6. Other highlights include:

  • An increased child tax credit in 2021 of $3,600 for children up to age 5 and up to $3,000 for ages 6 to 17.
  • $128.6 billion to help K-12 schools reopen.
  • $19 billion in emergency rental assistance.
  • $25 billion to help restaurants.
  • $46 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing.
  • $5.2 billion to support the research and development of vaccines.
  • $7.25 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans.

What to watch: The White House says Biden will sign the bill on Friday, and that stimulus checks will begin going out before the end of the month.

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