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Joe Biden announces distribution of USD 1,400 COVID-19 relief payments to begin this month

News Agencies | Updated on: 7 March 2021, 10:27 IST

US President Joe Biden on Saturday (local time) announced that the USD 1,400 coronavirus stimulus cheques will be distributed from March onwards. This is the first round of stimulus checks that will be given out under Biden. Former President Donald Trump passed two stimulus checks last year, one for USD 1,200 and another for USD 600.

According to The Hill, the payments come after the US Senate passed the nearly USD 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill Saturday in a 50-49 partisan vote. The bill was debated for weeks among Senators, with provisions such as an increase to a USD 15 minimum wage being taken out in order to get the bill through.

"Through this plan, checks will be distributed starting this month, to the American people who so desperately need the help, many of whom are lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering, "Will I lose my job, if I haven't already? Will I lose my insurance? Will I lose my home?"," the President said after the upper chamber passed the bill.

"This nation has suffered too much for much too long. And everything in this package is designed to relieve the sufferings and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation and put us in a better position to prevail, starting with beating this virus and vaccinating the country," he added.

Biden said that the resources in this plan will be used to expand and speed up the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines so we can get every single American vaccinated sooner than later.

The President said that over 85 per cent of American households will get direct payments of USD 1,400 per person. "For a typical middle-class family of four -- husband and wife working, making USD 100,000 a year total, with two kids -- will get $5,600, and it'll be on the way soon," he said.

"This plan puts us on the path to beating the virus. This plan will help those families who are struggling the most and the breathing room they need to get through this moment. This plan gives small businesses in this country a fighting chance to survive," Biden added.

He called the bill as historic adding that this plan is going to make it possible to cut child poverty in half. "Let me say that again -- it's significant, historic: It will cut child poverty in half," he said.

The Hill further reported that this is the first major bill Democrats were able to push through after they won the House, Senate and White House during the 2020 elections.

"It's a good day today. You know, when we took office 45 days ago, I promised the American people that help was on their way. Today, I can say we have taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise that help is on the way," Biden said.

According to CNN, the Democrats kept a Senate roll call vote open for 11 hours and 50 minutes, the longest in recent history, as Senator Manchin signalled he would accept the Republicans' less generous proposal.

The first amendment vote had begun at 11:03 am and was kept open for about 12 hours due to negotiations on a deal on unemployment.

Republicans were even able to temporarily get in their amendment to lower the payments to USD 300 per week through mid-July, but in the end, Democrats agreed to provide a USD 300-per-week payment until September 6, lining up with a deal the party announced on Friday night, The Hill stated.

The legislation will now go back to the House of Representatives -- the lower chamber of the US Congress --for a final vote and then Biden will sign in into law.


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First published: 7 March 2021, 10:27 IST