The House voted Saturday morning to pass President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, just days after the U.S. surpassed the devastating milestone of 500,000 virus-related deaths.
In a 219 to 212 vote, the Democratic-controlled House approved the bill, which includes $1,400 direct payments, a $400-a-week federal unemployment bonus, a per-child allowance of up to $3,600 for one year and billions of dollars to assist schools and local governments and distribute the coronavirus vaccines.
All three South Florida Republican members of Congress, Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Gimenez voted against the reconciliation bill, but Democratic Congresswoman Lois Frankel voted for it.
“I could not vote for a package filled with excessive non-COVID-19 items and a lack of ability for Republicans to have input in the process," Gimenez said in a statement. "Far too many Americans are struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and deserve substantial, targeted assistance."
“This past year has tested us like never before—the COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives and livelihoods, leaving many Americans grieving for their loved ones and worrying about how to put food on the table,” said Frankel. “The good news is help is on the way."
The bill is now goes set to go to the Senate, where a provision to raise the minimum wage will likely be removed.
If enacted, this would be the sixth round of aid from the federal government to the American people.
In a brief address Saturday morning, the President thanked the House and urged the Senate to move quickly to pass the bill.
"We have no time to waste," said Biden. "The people of this country have suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suffering, and the American Rescue Plan does just that."