WASHINGTON — President Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed a deeply divided Senate on Saturday over unanimous Republican opposition, as Democrats pushed through a pandemic aid plan that includes the largest antipoverty effort in a generation.
The package, which still must pass the House before it heads to Mr. Biden’s desk to be signed into law, is the first major legislative initiative of his presidency. It would inject vast amounts of federal resources into the economy, including direct payments of up to $1,400 for hundreds of millions of Americans, jobless aid of $300 a week to last through the summer, money for distributing coronavirus vaccines and relief for states, cities, schools and small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
Beyond the immediate aid, the measure, titled the American Rescue Plan, would also have a huge effect in combating poverty in the United States. It would potentially cut child poverty in half, through a generous expansion of tax credits for low-income Americans with children, increases in subsidies for child care, a broadening of eligibility under the Affordable Care Act and an expansion of food stamps and rental assistance.
Its eye-popping cost is just shy of the $2.2 trillion stimulus measure that became law last March, just as the devastating public health and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis was coming into view. It is the sixth in a series of substantial spending bills Congress has enacted since then, and the only one to pass without bipartisan support, although it is broadly popular with members of both parties outside Washington.