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Biden urges Senate to quickly pass $1.9 trillion relief package

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-02-28 09:38
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US President Joe Biden speaks after the House of Representatives passed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Feb 27, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden on Saturday urged the Senate to quickly pass the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which was approved by the House early Saturday morning amid unanimous Republican opposition.

"Now the bill moves to the United States Senate where I hope it will receive quick action ... we have no time to waste," Biden said at the White House.

"If we act now -- decisively, quickly, and boldly -- we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again," he said.

"And the people of this country have suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suffering," said the president. "And it's time to act."

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also said Saturday on the Twitter that as an economist and an American, she applauds "the House's favorable vote on the American Rescue Plan."

"There's a broad consensus among economists: People need more help putting food on the table & keeping a roof over their head until the virus is under control. This plan does that," she said.

The rescue plan contains direct payments of 1,400 dollars per person for working families, which is on top of the 600-dollar check in the 900-billion relief package approved in December. It would also boost federal unemployment benefits to 400 dollars per week and extend the measure through the end of September.

The House-approved bill also includes a provision to raise the federal minimum wage to 15 dollars, which would face tough tests in the 50-50 split Senate, where parliamentarians have ruled that the wage increase violates the budget reconciliation process and cannot be included.

The Senate is set to tackle the bill next week. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday blasted Democrats over the House passage of the relief package, calling it a "deliberately partisan process."

"House Democrats snapped that bipartisan streak. They jammed through a bill that even liberal economists and editorial boards say is not well targeted to this stage of the fight," McConnell said.

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