By Ovunc Kutlu
ANKARA (AA) – The US Senate passed on Saturday President Joe Biden's much-awaited $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, sending it back to House of Representatives for approval.
The upper chamber had a 50-49 vote, with one absentee and all Republicans voting against the relief package, which was passed through budget reconciliation — a process that required every Democratic vote without any Republican support.
While Republicans are worried about too much liquidity injected into the economy, Democrats argue that the extensive package is needed for quick recovery in the world's largest economy.
The bill is now sent to the House of Representatives where it will be voted again in the coming days to be sent to the White House. Biden needs to sign it before March 14 if unemployment benefit programs are to be renewed.
The package includes direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans and $300 weekly benefits for the unemployed into September. The bill lowered the $400 weekly support through August that passed the House last Saturday.
It also expands child tax credit one year for families with children, rental assistance and K-12 schools for reopening, while it provides new funding for vaccine distribution and testing.