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US House approves $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill; Biden to sign measure Friday


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. House of Representatives approved changes to the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief measure Wednesday with President Joe Biden set to sign the bill this week.

The House voted 220-211 along party lines in support of changes made by the Senate last weekend. No Republicans in any chamber backed the American Rescue Plan, including West Virginia Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller on Wednesday.

The relief package includes $1,400 relief checks for most Americans, as well as an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits through Sept. 6. There is also $10,200 worth of unemployment tax benefits for households making less than $150,000.

The White House said the Department of Treasury and IRS are trying to provide Americans with relief payments starting this month.

State and local governments will receive $350 billion for addressing the pandemic; West Virginia will get less than $1.3 billion, while the state’s municipal governments will receive $677 million. According to the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office, the state government has yet to spend $660 million in federal CARES Act money received last year.

The legislation also includes funding for coronavirus response and vaccination efforts, in addition to schools and businesses impacted by the pandemic. It also provides subsidies for health insurance and offers more money for states to expand Medicaid. The measure additionally temporarily increases the child tax credit.

The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy applauded the passage of the measure, calling the bill “the kind of action the country needs” amid the coronavirus pandemic and related economic downturn.

“At the one-year mark of the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, it has become increasingly clear that economic recovery isn’t going to happen overnight, particularly for low- and middle-income households and people of color, who have faced the deepest and longest impacts from the pandemic,” executive director Kelly Allen said.

“We have more work to do to build a more equitable future that works for everyone. We look forward to working with West Virginia’s congressional delegation to convey the importance for our people and our economy of enacting permanent policies that will reduce the longstanding inequities that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis.”

Biden announced following the vote he will sign the bill Friday.