CNB News – President Biden on Thursday signed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package into law, marking a significant legislative accomplishment for the new president as he looks to shepherd the country through the pandemic.
Biden, who signed the bill alongside Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office, characterised the measure as historic legislation aimed at “rebuilding the backbone of this country.”
“In the weeks that this bill has been discussed and debated, it is clear that an overwhelming percentage of the American people have made it clear they strongly support the American Rescue Plan,” Biden said in brief remarks before signing the bill. “Their voices were heard.”
Biden signed the bill without taking questions. He was scheduled to deliver a prime-time address later Thursday about the administration’s pandemic response.
The sweeping bill, which Biden proposed in January before taking office, includes funding for $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, vaccine distribution efforts, school re-openings, enhanced unemployment benefits through September and state and local governments, along with an expansion of the child tax credit and an expansion of ObamaCare, among other provisions.
The bill signing was originally planned for Friday afternoon, but was moved up a day after the bill arrived at the White House following the House vote on Wednesday.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain tweeted that the administration would still hold a celebration of the bill’s passage with congressional leaders on Friday. It’s unclear precisely who will attend, but the ceremony is not expected to include GOP lawmakers.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing Thursday that the event would include members from the House and Senate but would not be bipartisan. She said the administration is “still finalizing the list of attendees.”
No Republicans supported the bill in the House or Senate, and only one Democrat voted against it in the House.
The Biden administration will begin an all-out public relations blitz in the weeks to come to tout the benefits of the bill. The president will travel to Pennsylvania next Tuesday in what is expected to be the first of multiple trips to sell the legislation to the public and ensure it retains its popularity. Biden and Harris will also travel to Atlanta on Friday, the White House announced shortly before Biden signed the bill, branding the effort the “Help is Here” tour.