Biden will sign the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on Thursday, a day ahead of schedule

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden at the White House. Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images
  • Biden will sign the $US1.9 ($2) trillion COVID-19 stimulus package on Thursday, a day ahead of schedule.
  • The House passed the landmark legislation on Wednesday after narrow approval in the Senate.
  • Biden will sign the legislation ahead of his first primetime address as president.
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President Joe Biden is set to sign the $US1.9 ($2) trillion American Rescue Plan on Thursday afternoon.

Biden was originally set to sign the bill on Friday, but will do so a day early, and ahead of his first primetime address to the nation at 8 p.m. ET.

“The enrolled bill arrived last night — so @POTUS is signing it today — we want to move as fast as possible. We will hold our celebration of the signing on Friday, as planned, with Congressional leaders!” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain tweeted.

The stimulus bill, which delivers aid to American people, businesses, and governments affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, is Biden’s first major legislative victory in office.

“This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance,” Biden said in a statement.

The Democratic-controlled House on Wednesday approved the package in a 220-211 vote after the bill narrowly passed the US Senate by a vote of 50-49 over the weekend. Senate Democrats used budget reconciliation to pass the bill with a simple majority instead of the three-fifths threshold normally required to clear the filibuster.

The legislation did not get a single Republican vote in either chamber. One House Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, also voted against the bill.

Republicans have long assailed the relief package’s price-tag, arguing it is full of wasteful provisions.

“This isn’t a rescue bill; it isn’t a relief bill; it is a laundry list of left-wing priorities that predate the pandemic and do not meet the needs of American families,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Wednesday.

The bill includes $US1,400 ($1,799) stimulus checks for many Americans, supplemental unemployment benefits of $US300 ($386) per week, aid to state and local governments, money for COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution, aid to businesses affected by the pandemic, money for pensions, significant expansions of child tax credits, and enhancements to the Affordable Care Act, among other provisions.

The measure is the sixth major COVID-19 relief bill Congress has authorized in a year, bringing the total sum of emergency spending to $US5 ($6) trillion. Over half a million Americans have died since the coronavirus started sweeping the country early last year.

The legislation’s path through the House and the Senate starkly illustrates the chasm between Republicans and Democrats. Biden campaigned on restoring bipartisanship, but this divide may foreshadow major obstacles for the president as he moves onto other parts of his legislative agenda like infrastructure, tax reform, and immigration.

The bill’s passage comes as vaccinations are picking up across the US and the number of daily infections steadily drop. Still, the economy remains 10 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels, and experts are concerned about virus mutations and states rolling back virus restrictions prematurely, causing another spike in cases.