The Democrats-controlled House approved the final relief bill by a vote of 220 to 211 almost along party lines. The Senate passed the bill in a 50-49 vote last week after making changes to the original version passed by the House.
The legislation, known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, includes a new round of up to US$1,400 of direct payments for citizens, US$350 billion for state and local governments, as well as funding to directly combat the pandemic. It also extends an additional US$300 weekly federal unemployment benefit through September.
It marks the sixth coronavirus-related legislation enacted by U.S. Congress since the pandemic began more than a year ago. Democrats have touted the US$1.9-trillion measure as one of the most popular bills in decades, calling it a bold COVID-19 relief for people across the country, which would significantly cut poverty and boost recovery.
However, Republicans argue that it is too costly, accusing Democrats of abandoning bipartisanship to jam through liberal policies unrelated to the pandemic, as Congress passed five pandemic rescue packages totaling US$4 trillion in a bipartisan way last year.
The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) is a part of the American Rescue Plan Act. Thankful for the many voices & votes of support for this important provision. Proud of the partnership of @WeRRestaurants & @IndianaRLA on behalf of the hardest hit (1/3) pic.twitter.com/2UGYp5Mz4O
Wall Street and public-sector economists have revised up forecasts for U.S. economic growth due to the massive relief package and the vaccine roll-out. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday predicted that the U.S. economy would expand 6.5 percent in 2021, up from 3.2 percent estimated three months ago.
The U.S. economy contracted 3.5 percent in 2020 as the pandemic depressed consumer spending and business investment, the largest annual decline of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) since 1946.
Coming on top of the US$900-billion relief package approved by Congress in December 2020, Biden's US$1.9-trillion package means that the U.S. economy would get a fiscal stimulus of around 13 percent of U.S. GDP in 2021.
Since the start of the year, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note has jumped from 0.9 percent to around 1.5 percent amid growing concern about inflation. Meanwhile, the market's inflationary expectation for the next five years has jumped to around 2.4 percent, a level above the Federal Reserve's inflation target of 2 percent.
#FromTheSouth News Bits | The Italian-Russian Chamber of Commerce announced that Italy will be the first country in the European Union to start producing the Russian vaccine Sputnik V at the beginning of July. pic.twitter.com/DfroaELv0K