$1.9tn stimulus package signed into law by president Biden

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US President Joe Biden has signed a $1.9tn (£1.4tn) economic relief bill that aims to help Americans impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic into law.

The bill includes $1,400 payments, an extension of jobless benefits, and a child tax credit that is expect to lift millions out of poverty.

Mr Biden said the relief package will rebuild “the backbone of this country”.

The spending bill, one of the largest in US history, passed Congress without a single Republican supporter.

Mr Biden is due to give a primetime address later on Thursday to tout the bill’s provisions. He and other Democrats will also hold a signing ceremony at the White House on Friday.

This sixth Covid-19 relief bill is a major legislative win for Mr Biden.

The package has been broadly popular among Americans.

A March Pew Research Center poll found that 70% of US adults surveyed expressed support for the bill, including 41% of Republicans.

Unemployment skyrocketed over the last year, with a current rate of 6.2%, according to the US Labor Department.

Mr Biden had originally planned the bill signing for Friday, but it was pushed up in his schedule “because Congress enroled the bill more quickly than we anticipated,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a tweet.

The act includes one-off direct payments worth $1,400 to be sent off to most Americans.

It extends weekly jobless benefit payments of $300 until September.

It also allocates $350bn to state and local governments, some $130bn to school reopening, $49bn for expanded Covid-19 testing and research, as well as $14bn for vaccine distribution.

A proposal to raise the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour became a sticking point in the Senate and did not make it into the final version of the bill.

White House officials say that direct payments, the third payments of the pandemic, will begin before the end of March.

Previous cheques were sent out by tax officials within one to two weeks of the bills’ passage.

Individuals earning up to $75,000 will receive a $1,400 payment.

Tax officials at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) use tax statements to determine the exact size of each person’s payment. For that reason they have urged Americans to quickly file their tax returns, which are due 15 April.

Stimulus cheques sent out by Mr Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, included the former president’s personal signature.

But Mrs Psaki said Mr Biden’s signature will not be on these payments.