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Biden on $1.9T COVID package: 'Help is here'

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the American Rescue Plan from the Rose Garden on Friday. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the American Rescue Plan from the Rose Garden on Friday. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

March 12 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris celebrated the passage of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan Friday in the Rose Garden, kicking off what's expected to be a week of travel to promote the package across the country.

Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law on Thursday, a day after the House passed the stimulus and relief package. Democrats in the Senate narrowly passed the bill last weekend.

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The relief package was Biden's first major legislative victory since taking office.

"It's critical to demonstrate that government can function; can function and deliver prosperity, security and opportunity for the people of this country," he said.

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"This law is not the end of our efforts. I view it as only the beginning. To every American watching: Help is here and we will not stop working for you."

The bill, which was opposed by every single Republican in Congress, provides $1,400 direct stimulus payments to Americans who earned less than $75,000 in 2019 or 2020, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments and $14 billion for coronavirus vaccine distribution.

Harris touted Biden's efforts to get the legislation passed.

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"You had faith that Congress would pass this plan simply because it is the best thing for the American people and you put in the work to make it happen," she said Friday.

In a prime-time national address late Thursday, Biden called on every state to make vaccines available to all adults regardless of age and medical condition by May 1. During the speech, he also said the United States is on track to reach 100 million shots in 60 days.

"We need to remember the government isn't some foreign force in a distant capital," he said. "It's us. All of us.

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"America thrives when we give our hearts, when we turn our hands to a common purpose. And right now ... we're doing just that."

Click here to read the full transcript of Biden's Thursday speech.

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