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Biden makes final push for COVID-19 relief plan

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(NBC News) -- President Biden made a final push for his sweeping COVID-19 relief bill Friday as Senators spent the day debating and voting on amendments.

The latest version of the plan includes $1,400 direct payments to Americans and funding for vaccines reopening schools.

It also cuts extended unemployment benefits to $300 per week. 

The debate has largely fallen along party lines.

Republicans call the bill too costly, arguing trillions in relief already approved has gone unspent, and that much of the bill has nothing to do with coronavirus.

Democrats call their conservative colleagues short-sighted about the real needs of Americans.

"If you're struggling to put food on table for your kids, that $5,600 for a family of four is life and death.  Its dignity or desperation," Senator Bernie Sanders argued.

President Biden says he's focused on reversing the economic effects of the pandemic.

"The rescue plan is absolutely essential to turning this around," he said.

NBC News

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