News World US US Congress approves coronavirus relief bill
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US Congress approves coronavirus relief bill

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US Congress has approved a $US1.9 trillion ($A2.5 trillion) coronavirus relief bill that will deliver stimulus checks to millions of Americans.

The House of Representatives gave final congressional approval to the sweeping package by a near-party line 220-211 vote.

All that is left is for President Joe Biden to sign the bill into law, which he is expected to do at the White House on Friday afternoon (local time).

It is his first major legislative victory seven weeks after he entered the White House and comes four days after the Senate passed the bill.

Moments after the so-called American Rescue Plan passed the House, Mr Biden released a statement saying the legislation “is about giving the backbone of this nation … a fighting chance”.

“On Friday, I look forward to signing the American Rescue Plan into law at the White House – a people’s law at the people’s house,” Mr Biden said.

He thanked “all the members who voted for it, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the finest and most capable speaker in the history of our nation”.

Not a single Republican voted in favour of the bill.

Republicans in both chambers opposed the bill unanimously, characterising it as bloated, crammed with unrelated policies and not taking heed of signs the pandemic crisis is easing.

They said the measure was too costly and was packed with they perceive to be wasteful progressive priorities.

“It’s the wrong plan at the wrong time for so many wrong reasons,” Republican Representative Jason Smith said.

“Help is here,” Mr Biden tweeted moments after the roll call ended.

Most noticeable to many individuals in the country are provisions to provide up to $US1,400 direct payments this year to most adults and extend $US300 per week emergency unemployment benefits into early September.

“Today we have a decision to make of tremendous consequence,” Mr Pelosi said.

“A decision that will make a difference for millions of Americans, saving lives and livelihoods.”

The relief bill is now headed to the President’s desk for his signature.

“President Biden’s vision and his determination were so apparent to the American people and the reason why this legislation enjoys this support of 75 per cent of the American people in a strong bipartisan way across the country,” Ms Pelosi said.

“We thank him for his leadership and also for his contribution to the substance of the legislation as well as his signature when that comes.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer thanked Democrats for working to pass the relief bill, which he called “one of the most consequential pieces of legislation we have passed in decades.”

“So this is a wonderful day for America,” Mr Schumer said.

“This is one of the most consequential pieces of legislation we have passed in decades, and you know what we can show America, that we can get things done to make their lives better, and we will continue to do that through the rest of this session.

“Help is on the way.”

A Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll, conducted March 8-9, showed 70 per cent of Americans supported the plan, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans.

Among Republicans, five out of 10 say they support the plan, while nine out of 10 Democrats supported it.

-with AAP