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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

$1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package Wins Final Passage; LaHood, Davis Vote 'No'

Davis and LaHood
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WGLT
U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis, left, of Taylorville and Darin LaHood of Peoria were among those Republicans voting against it.

UPDATED 3:50 p.m. | Bloomington-Normal's two Republican congressmen voted against the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that's now headed to President Biden's desk.

House lawmakers on Wednesday gave final approval to the measure. The White House says Biden plans to sign it on Friday.

The House voted 220-211 with no Republicans supporting the bill, despite calls for bipartisan support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other Democratic leaders.

U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis of Taylorville and Darin LaHood of Peoria were among the Republicans voting against it. Both had raised concerns about the bill previously. Davis said schools could be reopened safely now without more federal money. LaHood said the $1.9 trillion package was "like throwing money out of a helicopter."

"Instead of rewarding fiscally irresponsible states with huge bailouts, Congress should work together to incentive growth, focus on job creation, and vaccine distribution. To generate a strong economy we need to get government out of the way, open our communities, and enable Americans to thrive," LaHood said in a speech on the House floor.

Davis said Democrats used the package to "push their own political priorities totally unrelated to the pandemic."

"Vast sums of the spending in this bill won’t be spent for years, and it’s not targeted at all. I support strengthening our vaccine program, helping our kids get back in school, and providing relief to those families and businesses who need it most, and it’s unfortunate Congress didn’t focus this legislation on the immediate needs of our country," Davis said in a statement Tuesday.

Illinois' two Democratic senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both supported it.

What's in the bill

The bill will direct a new round of aid to Americans — in the form of direct payments, extended unemployment benefits, an expanded child tax credit and more — almost a year after the pandemic first upended daily life in the United States.

The House passed a similar version of the plan last month, but had to approve changes to the legislation made by the Senate. One key difference is that the Senate's version of the bill doesn't include an increase to the minimum wage, a provision that was ruled out by the nonpartisan Senate parliamentarian.

The final legislation also includes an extension of federal unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, but the payments will remain at $300 per week rather than the $400 weekly benefits originally approved by the House.

The Senate also tightened the caps for direct payments, narrowing who would qualify for them.

Beyond support for individuals and families, including an expanded child tax credit, the bill allocates billions of dollars to schools and to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, testing and supplies. (Read more about what's in the bill here.)

NPR and WCBU's Tim Shelley contributed to this report.

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