Washington: President Joe Biden signed his $US1.9 trillion ($2.5 trillion) stimulus bill into law on Thursday, commemorating the one-year anniversary of a US lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic with a measure designed to bring relief to Americans and boost the economy.
The Democratic-led US House of Representatives gave final congressional approval to the measure on Wednesday, handing the Democratic president a major victory in the early months of his term.
“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said before signing.
Biden signed the measure before a prime-time speech he plans later on Thursday (Friday AEDT) to herald the anniversary of the lockdown, urge vigilance as the pandemic rages, and offer hope amid a growing number of vaccinated people across the country.
Biden’s signing of the legislation, called the American Rescue Plan, had initially been scheduled for Friday, but White House chief of staff Ron Klain said it was moved up after it arrived at the White House on Wednesday night.
“We want to move as fast as possible,” Klain posted on Twitter. A celebration with congressional leaders would still take place on Friday, he said.
The package provides $US400 billion for $US1400 direct payments to most Americans, $US350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit and increased funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
Biden, who campaigned on a promise to curb the pandemic more effectively than his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, has told Americans since his January inauguration that more deaths and pain were coming from COVID-19.