US Senate approves $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package

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In the USA, President Joe Biden's planned new corona aid package has cleared another hurdle. After hours of debate, the Senate voted on Saturday for an amended version of the draft worth $ 1.9 trillion. Since the template differs from the original one from the House of Representatives, this Congress Chamber has to deal with the package again.

US Senate approves $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package

Image: APA / AFP

The majority leader in the House of Representatives, the Democrat Steny Hoyer, announced the vote on Tuesday. Biden himself had recently signaled that he would approve the compromises negotiated in the Senate. The debate on the markets is being followed with excitement: Investors are hoping that the aid package will give the US economy a boost.

The vote in the Senate ran exactly along the party lines. When one Republican failed to attend because of bereavement, 50 Senators – all Democrats – voted for the bill and the remaining 49 Republicans voted against. In the event of a stalemate, Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris would have given the decisive vote. There was also resistance to the original plans within the Democrats, for example with regard to the amount of additional unemployment benefits that the federal government is supposed to pay. This is now $ 300 per week instead of $ 400 as originally planned by the House of Representatives. A nationwide increase in the minimum wage has been completely canceled and is now to be promoted in a separate law.

The version passed by the Senate also provides, among other things, $ 400 billion for a one-time payment of $ 1,400 to most US citizens. In a first statement, Biden announced that the disbursement of these funds should begin in March. The draft also provides for the municipalities and states to receive $ 350 billion. “I want the American people to know we're going to get through this,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “One day our shops will open again, our economy will open again, and life will open again.”

With the package, total federal corona aid in the United States would add up to about six trillion dollars within a year. The Republicans have supported earlier packages. Many of them have now stated that the additional measures are too expensive. According to an estimate published on Thursday by the Independent Budget Bureau of Congress (CBO), the US debt burden should double in the next three decades even without the new package. The Republicans lost the presidency and majority in the Senate in November. According to surveys, the new package is supported by the majority of the US population.

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