WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted early Saturday morning to approve President Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package, a major step toward enacting the first legislative priority of the new administration as the devastating fallout from the spread of COVID-19.
The measure passed largely along party lines, 219-212, with two Democrats joining all Republicans in opposition.
The relief plan would enhance and extend federal unemployment benefits, provide $350 billion to state and local governments, send a $1,400 check to many Americans and fund vaccine distribution, among other measures. Congress has passed a series of relief measures since the pandemic’s beginning, and Democrats report the latest package will help support the country’s return to normalcy.
With the bill bound for a Senate split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers will next week begin offering amendments to the House’s plan and will likely pass a different version of the bill they received.
If that happens, the House will then have to pass the Senate’s version or the two chambers will have to meet to draft a final, agreeable draft in a conference committee. Democrats are rushing to send the bill to Biden’s desk by March 14, when jobless benefits are set to expire.