US legislators are pressing forward with their coronavirus relief bill, as President Joe Biden granted his approval for bypassing a Republican minority.
"We're moving forward under the reconciliation. That is what President Biden wants us to do, and that is what we're doing", Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the press. "Joe Biden is totally on board with using reconciliation. I've been talking to him every day. Our staffs have been talking multiple times a day. And I believe that we will pass the resolution this afternoon".
As the Democratic Party controls both chambers of the US Congress (resolving a 50-50 divide in the Senate by using Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker vote), they initiated a "joint budget resolution", which allows the relief bill to be passed via a simple majority instead of the Senate's traditional 60-vote threshold.
House Republicans have already criticised the massive package, saying the White House had decided to "ram through a partisan COVID-relief bill" and ignore millions of Americans after "weeks of calling for unity and bipartisanship".
"Again, despite calls for bipartisanship, there is no indication President Biden will change so much as a cent of his plan to accommodate Republican concerns", a press release from the office of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise stated.
The Democrats' bill stipulates $1,400 direct payment to most Americans, with an additional $500 in aid for adult dependents and children.
At least $130 billion is expected to be spent for the reopening of schools and $35 billion - for universities. Small businesses are promised $15 billion in grants, while $25 billion is envisaged to "help renters and small landlords make ends meet", and $5 billion in emergency assistance to "people experiencing or at risk of homelessness".
At the same time, the legislation suggests spending $20 billion for the universal vaccination programme and $50 billion for a "massive expansion" in coronavirus testing.