The US House of Representatives on Saturday (local time) approved President Joe Biden's USD 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package by a majority of votes.
The bill's passage comes days after the COVID-19 death toll in the US crossed 500,000 mark. According to CNN, the final vote tally was 219-212. Two Democrats broke ranks and voted against the bill: Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Jared Golden of Maine. The Democratic Party has hailed the bill as a critical step in funnelling new funding toward vaccinations, overburdened local governments, and millions of families devastated by the pandemic.
The bill now requires approval in the Senate and the signature of US President Joe Biden before it can enter into force.
Making the effort more complicated, the Senate is expected to strip out a provision in the legislation increasing the federal minimum wage after the Senate parliamentarian ruled against including it under the procedure known as reconciliation, which Senate Democrats are using to pass the bill with a simple majority vote. The bill would then have to go back to the House for a separate vote before it could go to Biden to be signed into law, CNN reported.
It further reported that the package advanced by House Democrats also includes direct aid to small businesses, USD 1,400 direct checks to Americans making less than USD 75,000 annually, an increase in the child tax credit, direct funding to state and local governments, funding for schools and more money for vaccine distribution. (ANI)
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