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President Biden signed his administration's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package into law Thursday afternoon. Both houses of Congress approved the bill, which includes stimulus checks, state and local government aid, child tax credits, jobless benefits and funds for vaccine distribution. Democrat lawmakers widely supported the legislation as a mandatory stimulant for a pandemic-stricken economy and populous. None of the 261 Republicans in Congress voted for it; many say it includes unnecessary provisions and fear it will have lasting negative effects on the economy and federal budget.
Coverage from left-rated media often framed the bill as a win for Biden and the American people; some left-rated voices highlighted specific ways the bill will benefit communities in need. Right-rated media coverage often reflected GOP concerns about the bill, painting it as a polarized move that purportedly goes against the Biden administration's focus on unity and bipartisanship. Some voices throughout the spectrum, especially right-rated voices, echoed warnings about the bill's long-term economic impacts.
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Snippets from the Right
“'I said the other day that calling this a coronavirus bill is like calling Harvey Weinstein a feminist,' Kennedy said. 'It’s just chock-full of spending porn. There are parts of it I like. I like trying to help people who are unemployed, and I like trying to help our small business people, especially our restaurants. But I don’t understand why we have to give bucket-loads of money to prisoners. Why do they need help?'”
"Republicans warned that only a small percentage of the American Rescue Plan was actually going toward Covid-19 relief, and that the rest is filled with pork, far-left policies, and bailouts—hence why it passed on a party-line vote. One provision in the $1.9 trillion legislation that’s now coming under scrutiny is the $86 billion bailout for failing pensions. As The New York Times reports, taxpayer money is going towards problems that existed prior to the pandemic."
Snippets from the Left
"Senators voted 50-49 along party lines with one Republican—Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska—absent. The approval got Democrats one step closer to fulfilling one of the biggest early priorities for President Joe Biden."
"Whatever the outcome, Democrats need to seriously consider what it would take to expand this provision — as it stands, it's set to last for only the next year. Because I, for one, am tired of Congress' doing backflips to justify helping people, coming up with tax write-offs and credits and rebates and whatever else it takes to avoid its seeming like the federal government is helping balance the scales toward the nation's poorest."
Snippets from the Center
Pew Research Center (data)
"Only about three-in-ten (28%) oppose the bill, which provides economic aid to businesses, individuals and state and local governments. While congressional votes on the legislation have been deeply divided along partisan lines, 41% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents support the measure. The bill draws overwhelming support from Democrats and Democratic leaners (94% favor)."
Christian Science Monitor (analysis)
"As President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan speeds toward final passage this week, Democrats are hailing the bill as one of the most sweeping pieces of progressive legislation in decades – one that they say will lift millions of Americans, particularly children, out of poverty, and could herald a deeper and more long-term shift in public attitudes toward government assistance."