U.S. President Joe Biden signed a giant economic package for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday. The bill provides for government support worth nearly $ 2 trillion, including $ 1,400 in a one-time benefit for most American adults.
The US leader signed the document in the Oval Office in the company of Vice President Kamala Harris. As he assessed, the act - the adoption of which he called for already during the campaign - is to "rebuild the backbone of the country".
The US president expressed the opinion that the vast majority of Americans support the bailout package. "Their voices have been heard," he said. During the signature ceremony, Biden did not answer journalists' questions. On Thursday evening, local time, he is scheduled to televise on the anniversary of the lockdown in the United States.
One of the highlights of the package is the next tranche of direct money transfers for most American adults. This time in the amount of $ 1,400. In the spring of 2020, Congress voted, and the government distributed such grants worth $ 1,000. The government is to start sending the first transfers to US citizens' accounts in March.
Less than a week before the expiry of the surplus support for the unemployed, the act extends it until September. Until then, unemployed people will receive an additional $ 300 a week on top of their basic benefits. For those who struggle to pay their rent on time, $ 20 billion has been earmarked.
The package also allocates additional budget resources to finance the vaccination campaign, as well as medicines and medical services related to the epidemic. Complementary funding will be provided to state governments, schools, and businesses.
After a meeting that lasted over a day, including an overnight session from Friday to Saturday, the US Senate voted overnight at the gigantic bill. It was the culmination of a negotiating marathon that had been going on for weeks. The package got approval in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, but no Republican congressman endorsed it here.
Several changes were made in the course of the negotiations as compared to the earlier congress proposals. The main ones concern the reduction of unemployment assistance and the rejection of the federal minimum wage at the level of $ 15 an hour, advocated by Senator Bernie Sanders. Apart from the Republicans, some Democrats were against such a step.
Nearly $ 3 trillion in the four packages voted by Congress shortly after the outbreak broke out, which together constituted the greatest financial stimulus for the US economy in history and approx. US GDP. At the end of December 2020, another package was approved, worth around $ 900 billion, linked to the Budget Act.
Talks about supporting the economy during the epidemic have been intense in the US for the summer. Democrats supported amounts as high as 3 trillion, pointing to the need to stimulate the economy in crisis. Republicans made a more cautious proposition, pointing to the risk of excessive public debt. (PAP)