Coronavirus: US Senate passes major $1.9tn relief plan

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The relief plan has been championed by President Joe Biden

The US Senate has voted to approve America’s third major spending package to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The $1.9tn (£1.4tn) plan passed by 50 votes to 49 on Saturday, and will now head to the House of Representatives where it is expected to be endorsed.

The relief plan has been championed by President Joe Biden as a way to help struggling citizens.

But his Democratic Party compromised on some issues ahead of the vote.

There were long discussions over federal unemployment benefit, which Democrats agreed to lower from $400 to $300 a week. The benefit will be extended until 6 September under the plan.

It envisages stimulus checks worth $1,400 to be sent to most Americans.

America’s worst public health crisis in a century has left nearly 523,000 people dead and 29 million infected, with a current unemployment rate of 6.2%.

What’s in the package?

The so-called American Rescue Plan allocates $350bn to state and local governments, and some $130bn to schools.

It would also provide $49bn for expanded Covid-19 testing and research, as well as $14bn for vaccine distribution.

The $1,400 stimulus cheques will be quickly phased out for those with higher incomes – at $75,000 for a single person and couples making more than $150,000.

The extension of jobless benefits until September would mark a key reprieve for more than four million long-term unemployed Americans, whose eligibility for benefits is currently due to expire in mid-March. (BBC)

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