The so-called “American Rescue Plan” is one of the largest stimulus measures in U.S. history, providing extended emergency unemployment benefits, direct payments of up to $1,400 for most Americans and vast piles of spending for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, states and cities, schools and ailing industries, along with tax breaks to help lower-earning people, families with children and consumers buying health insurance.
“People can expect to start seeing direct deposits hit their bank accounts as early as this weekend,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a news conference immediately following the bill signing.
Biden is slated to give a primetime address Thursday evening marking the one-year anniversary of massive coronavirus shutdowns. NewsNation will air the speech beginning at 8 p.m. EST – find your channel here.
Psaki previously said Biden would sign the bill Friday. In a tweet, Psaki said Congress enrolled the bill quicker than expected so the bill signing was moved up.
The House gave final congressional approval to the package by a near party-line 220-211 vote Wednesday, seven weeks after Biden entered the White House and four days after the Senate passed the bill without a single Republican vote. This marks an early landmark victory for the Democratic president.
The bill’s signing means the federal government will be able to launch the delivery of $1,400 stimulus checks almost right away, according to tax experts.
GOP House members unanimously opposed the bill they’ve characterized as bloated, crammed with liberal policies and heedless of signs the dual crises are easing. One Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, voted against the bill. Republicans noted that they’ve overwhelmingly supported five previous relief bills Congress has approved since the pandemic struck a year ago.
The bill was sent over to the House on Tuesday morning from the Senate. Later Tuesday, the House procedurally voted to advance the bill.
The Senate passed its version of the bill after a 25-hour marathon session Saturday. The Senate version eliminated or pared back some provisions included in the House bill, which had increased the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and extended expanded jobless assistance through Aug. 29.
Americans have already pocketed $1.5 trillion in savings from the previous rounds of stimulus, and this one is coming as a rising portion of the population is finding it safer to resume activities such as dining out and traveling that have been off-limits for much of the past year, costing millions of service workers their jobs.