President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law a $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package aimed at relieving the devastating economic suffering inflicted by the pandemic and bolstering the fight against the deadly virus with tens of billions of dollars in new funding for vaccine distribution, testing, and healthcare.
Biden was initially expected to sign the bill Friday before his team decided to move up the timeline in an effort to get desperately needed relief out the door as quickly as possible. The White House said eligible Americans can expect to start receiving $1,400 checks as early as this weekend.
Touting overwhelming support for the relief package among the American people, Biden said just before signing the legislation that "their voices were heard and are reflected in everything we have in this bill."
"This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people in this nation—working people, middle-class folks, people who built the country—a fighting chance," said Biden. "That's what the essence of it is."
Starting with a primetime address to the nation Thursday night, the president is set to kick off a coordinated messaging campaign to spotlight the law's key provisions, which include a yearlong expansion of the child tax credit that experts estimate will cut child poverty in half; direct payments to some 280 million Americans, including children and adult dependents; an extension of emergency unemployment programs through Labor Day; and billions of dollars in funding for schools, state and local governments, and vaccine distribution.
According to an analysis (pdf) by the Urban Institute, the core economic relief policies of the American Rescue Plan will lift as many as 16 million people in the U.S. out of poverty.
"With bold policies like this, we can transform the lives of millions of people across the country," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted Thursday. "Let's keep it going."
In a joint statement, a coalition of progressive advocacy groups including the Battle Born Collective, Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement, United We Dream, and New Deal Strategies said the approval of nearly $2 trillion in spending "will bring badly needed relief to millions of working families and begin the long road of recovery from the pandemic."
"The scale and impact of this legislation should not be discounted," the coalition said. "As the pandemic has revealed and exacerbated the gaping holes in our social safety net, we hope that temporary programs that will dramatically lower poverty over the next two years, such as the child tax credit, are made permanent."