Biden signs $1.9 trillion stimulus bill into law on US lockdown anniversary


US President Joe Biden. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden signed his $1.9 trillion stimulus bill into law on Thursday, commemorating the one-year anniversary of a US lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic with a measure designed to bring relief to Americans and boost the economy.

The Democratic-led US House of Representatives gave final congressional approval to the measure on Wednesday, handing the Democratic president a major victory in the early months of his term.

"This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country," Biden said before signing.

Biden signed the measure before a prime-time speech he plans later on Thursday to herald the anniversary of the lockdown, urge vigilance as the pandemic rages, and offer hope amid a growing number of vaccinated people across the country.

Biden's signing of the legislation, called the American Rescue Plan, had initially been scheduled for Friday, but White House chief of staff Ron Klain said it was moved up after it arrived at the White House on Wednesday night.

"We want to move as fast as possible," Klain posted on Twitter. A celebration with congressional leaders would still take place on Friday, he said.

The package provides $400 billion for $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit and increased funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Biden, who campaigned on a promise to curb the pandemic more effectively than his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, has told Americans since his January inauguration that more deaths and pain were coming from COVID-19.

With the vaccinated population slowly increasing, Biden is conveying fresh hope even as he urges people to continue to be cautious to prevent further flare-ups.

Biden and top aides are planning a nationwide tour to sell Americans on the benefits of the pandemic relief bill, including Pennsylvania next Tuesday and Atlanta on March 19.

Roughly 530,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, and about 10% of Americans have been fully vaccinated.

Biden said on Wednesday he would use his 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT) address to discuss "what we've been through as a nation this past year" and lay out the next phase of the government's COVID-19 response.

The president is expected to warn Americans who, like people worldwide, are weary of pandemic restrictions, not to revert to normal behavior prematurely. Biden has urged continued mask wearing, social distancing and good hygiene, and he has discouraged cities and states from loosening their guidelines on large gatherings even as more localities relax restrictions.

Trump played down the crisis in its early stages and eschewed mask wearing, while repeatedly predicting the virus would soon disappear even as his administration pushed to speed up vaccine development.

The former president and his wife Melania Trump did not appear in a public service announcement released on Thursday encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations and featuring all of the other living former US presidents and their spouses.

美国总统乔·拜登。[图片/机构]华盛顿——美国总统乔·拜登(Joe Biden)周四签署了1.9万亿美元的刺激法案,使其成为法律,以纪念美国对冠状病毒大流行实施封锁一周年,该措施旨在减轻美国人的痛苦并提振经济。周三,民主党领导的美国众议院对该措施给予了国会最终批准,这使民主党总统在任期的前几个月取得了重大胜利。“这项历史性的立法是关于重建这个国家的支柱,”拜登在签署前说。拜登在周四晚些时候的黄金时段讲话前签署了这项措施,他计划在讲话中宣布封锁周年纪念日,敦促人们在疫情肆虐时保持警惕,并为全国越来越多的接种疫苗者带来希望。拜登签署这项名为《美国救援计划》的立法最初定于周五,但白宫办公厅主任罗恩·克莱恩(Ron Klain)表示,该法案在周三晚上抵达白宫后被提前。“我们想尽快行动,”克莱恩在推特上写道。他说,周五仍将与国会领导人举行庆祝活动。该方案为大多数美国人提供4000亿美元的1400美元直接支付,为州和地方政府提供3500亿美元的援助,扩大儿童税收抵免,并增加新冠肺炎疫苗分发的资金。拜登在竞选中承诺,要比他的共和党前任唐纳德·特朗普更有效地遏制疫情。自1月份就职以来,他告诉美国人,更多的死亡和痛苦来自新冠肺炎。随着接种疫苗的人口慢慢增加,拜登传达了新的希望,尽管他敦促人们继续保持谨慎,以防止进一步爆发。拜登和他的高级助手计划进行一次全国范围的旅行,向美国人宣传大流行救助法案的好处,包括下周二在宾夕法尼亚州和3月19日在亚特兰大。在美国,大约有53万人死于新冠肺炎,大约10%的美国人已经完全接种了疫苗。拜登周三表示,他将利用美国东部时间下午8点(格林威治时间0100)的讲话,讨论“过去一年我们作为一个国家经历了什么”,并阐述政府下一阶段对新冠肺炎的回应。预计总统将警告像世界各地的人一样厌倦大流行限制的美国人,不要过早地恢复正常行为。拜登敦促继续佩戴口罩、保持社交距离和良好的卫生习惯,他还劝阻城市和州放松对大型集会的指导方针,即使更多的地方放松了限制。特朗普淡化了危机的早期阶段,避免戴口罩,同时反复预测病毒将很快消失,尽管他的政府正在推动加快疫苗开发。这位前总统和他的妻子梅兰妮·特朗普没有出现在周四发布的公共服务公告中,该公告鼓励新冠肺炎接种疫苗,并以所有其他在世的美国前总统及其配偶为特色。

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