US Senate Passes ‘American Rescue Plan’ To Provide Nearly $2 Trillion In Relief
The US Senate has passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan to help the country recover from the effects of the pandemic.
The Senate approved the plan in a 50-49 vote today, which will now pass to the House in the coming days.
The plan includes payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans and a $300 increase to unemployment benefits until October. Additionally, it will provide money for the distribution of coronavirus vaccines and relief for schools and small businesses which have struggled during the pandemic.
Democrats have been keen to push through and get the plan signed into law by President Joe Biden before March 14, when the current unemployment insurance boost is set to formally expire.
There had previously been some disagreement over an extension to the unemployment insurance benefit, which was initially proposed to give people payments of $400 a week. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin had argued that the extension would discourage people from returning to work once the economy reopened.
‘We have reached a compromise that enables the economy to rebound quickly while also protecting those receiving unemployment benefits from being hit with unexpected tax bills next year,’ Manchin said in a statement to CNN.
‘We tell the American people, help is on the way,’ Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote. ‘Our job right now is to help our country get from this stormy present to that hopeful future,’ he added.
The package had been widely criticised by Republican senators, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell describing it as the most ‘haphazard’ way to spend $2 trillion.
Bernie Sanders had also proposed a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, however, this was abandoned by the Senate after Republican Senator Lindsey Graham raised that the amendment was not in line with budget rules.
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