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House approves $1.9T COVID relief bill, Biden set to sign Friday

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United States Congress

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved President Joe Biden‘s massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, sending it to his desk to be signed, marking Democrats’ first major legislative win under Biden.

The stimulus package passed without Republican support in a 220-211 party-line vote. Only one Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden (Maine), voted against it.

The House’s Wednesday afternoon vote came after the U.S. Senate passed a version of it on Saturday, also along party lines, with the bill having faced a grueling path to passage from Republicans and centrist Democrats in the upper chamber.

RELATED: Sen. Sinema breaks with Democrats on $15 minimum wage

The bill provides new funds for public health measures with another round of economic stimulus, giving a $1,400 check to many American adults and an extension of a $300 weekly jobless-aid supplement. Moreover, it includes a one-year expansion of the child tax credit; and grants money for vaccine distribution efforts, schools, and state and local governments, among other measures.

The president has said he will sign the bill as soon as it lands on his desk, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki saying Wednesday that Biden is expected to sign it on Friday afternoon. She also said that the president will tap an official to oversee the implementation of the legislation.

Thursday evening, the president is scheduled to deliver a primetime address to the nation to commemorate one year since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns began in the U.S., in his first major speech since his January 20 inaugural address. Notably, Biden has also not held a formal press briefing yet, though Psaki said Friday that he will hold one before the end of March.

RELATED: Biden to deliver primetime address this week

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Economy

Biden spends $1.65 trillion taxpayer dollars while vacationing in St. Croix

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Joe Biden

While vacationing in the island of St. Croix for the holidays, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the massive $1.65 omnibus spending package.

The whopping 4,155 pages was supported by only nine House Republicans and 13 Senate Republicans. Majority of criticism from the GOP includes concerns that the bill was rushed and crammed with wasteful spending by a lame-duck Democratic-dominated Congress. The recourse will punish American families by adding to the national debt and exacerbate inflation.

“Today, I signed the bipartisan omnibus bill, ending a year of historic progress. It’ll invest in medical research, safety, veteran health care, disaster recovery, VAWA funding — and gets crucial assistance to Ukraine,” Biden tweeted. “Looking forward to more in 2023.”

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell “praised the bill on the grounds that it represents a real decrease in discretionary spending. He presented it as a positive that nondefense spending jumped by only 5.5 percent, from $730 billion to $772.5 billion, amid an inflation rate of 7.1 percent” writes National Review.

“The bipartisan government-funding bill that Senators Shelby and Leahy have finished negotiating does exactly the opposite of what the Biden administration first proposed,” he said. “This bill provides a substantial real-dollar increase to the defense baseline . . . and a substantial real-dollar cut to the non-defense, non-veterans baseline,” McConnell insisted as negotiations were wrapping up.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, however, stated his strong disapproval of the bill before it even advanced. Affirming a letter from 13 House Republicans, McCarthy demanded the bill is reckless, irresponsible, and a “purposeful refusal to secure and defend our borders.”

For example, it failed to incorporate protections for Title 42, the pandemic policy that allows illegal immigrants to be expelled on a public-health basis, which currently hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court.

National Review adds, “The funding in the bill, which averted a federal government shutdown before the new year, includes an allocation of $45 billion in defense assistance to Ukraine. Some Republican priorities, such as Electoral Count Act reform and a bigger military budget, were nested in with Democratic appropriations, such as increased funding for Medicaid and food stamps.”

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