Third stimulus check: Biden signs the American Rescue Plan into law
President Joe Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill ahead of schedule, releasing the federal funding for unemployment support, vaccination roll-out and the $1,400 stimulus checks.
On the one-year anniversary of the nation’s first covid-19 pandemic-enforced lockdown, President Joe Biden has signed into law the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that will form the basis of his administration’s coronavirus response.
"This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation, working people, middle class folks, people who built the country, a fighting chance," Biden said shortly before signing the legislation. "That's what the essence of it is."
The signing was initially thought to be scheduled for Friday but White House officials have confirmed that the swift process in the House of Representatives this week has allowed them to get the bill on the President’s desk earlier than previously thought. There are now hopes that the first of the $1400 stimulus checks could be sent out this weekend.
Stimulus bill signed into law ahead of time
Thursday’s news brings to an abrupt halt months of negotiations and discussions in Washington about the future of the Americans Recue Plan, the huge stimulus bill first unveiled by Biden in January.
The bill was first passed by the House, before moving to the Senate where some elements of the provisions and eligibility requirements for support were altered in the face of tough Republican opposition. The amended bill then returned to the House on Tuesday for a second vote but it was soon passed by the Democrat-led chamber.
Despite being signed slightly ahead of schedule the White House signing event is still going ahead on Friday, when Biden will be joined by Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office. Harris played a key role in the passing of the bill, using her tie-breaking vote in the Senate to allow the legislation to reach the floor for a vote.
Biden’s key legislative priority successfully passed in Congress
The Georgia Senate runoff elections in January gave the Democrats unified power in Washington, meaning that they held the White House as well as both Houses of Congress. However their slender majority in the Senate meant that they had to keep all Democratic senators on side to ensure that the bill was passed.
In both the House and in the Senate, not a single Republican voted in favour of the package, with most arguing that the amount of federal spending involved was too great.
This view was at odds with the majority of the American public who overwhelmingly supported the American Rescue Plan. A study from Politico/Morning Consult in February found that 76% of all voters and 60% of Republican-leaning voters thought that Congress should pass the new stimulus bill.
The bill aims to tackle both the public health and the economic consequences of the pandemic that has ground societies around the world to a halt, and has taken more than 500,00 American lives.
For millions who are struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic, the $1,400 stimulus checks will be the most pressing concern and it is thought that some will begin receiving the support as early as this weekend.
For all of the latest updates on the stimulus check payments as they go out, follow our dedicated live feed.