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Biden, in Pennsylvania to promote stimulus package, calls aid 'a big deal'

CHESTER, Pa. (Reuters) - President Joe Biden promoted his $1.9 trillion stimulus package in Pennsylvania on Tuesday as part of an all-out push by his team to sell a plan aimed at boosting the U.S. economy out of its pandemic doldrums.

“It’s a big deal,” Biden told the owners of a small hardwood flooring installation business in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester. “More help is on the way, for real.”

The stop was Biden’s first on a promotional campaign the White House is calling the “Help is Here” tour that also includes Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and others.

Several of the stops have been in areas critical to the Democratic president’s 2020 election victory over Republican former President Donald Trump, including Pennsylvania.

Biden and Harris on Friday will visit Georgia, another state where Biden eked out a win over Trump. The two states will also be important battlegrounds in Senate elections in 2022, when Republicans hope to regain control of the chamber.

The stimulus law, known as the American Rescue Plan, passed the Democratic-led U.S. Congress despite unified Republican opposition. Republicans supported pandemic-related relief bills under Trump but rejected Biden’s plan as too expensive and not sufficiently focused on the public health crisis.

The package, one of the largest economic stimulus measures in U.S. history, provides $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, an expansion of the child tax credit and increased funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

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The White House said the Pennsylvania business Biden visited qualifies for several programs included in the new law, including small business loans and tax credits.

The measure was Biden’s first legislative priority upon taking office in January. Partisan battle lines are already being drawn over what could come next - a massive infrastructure plan that could involve the first major tax increase since 1993. Biden has promised he will not raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year.

The White House has said it does not believe former President Barack Obama’s administration, in which Biden served as vice president, did enough to promote its more than $800 billion 2009 economic rescue program. Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives to Republicans the next year.

Biden on Monday said his administration would reach two important goals over the next 10 days: 100 million coronavirus shots in people’s arms and 100 million checks in people’s pockets or bank accounts.

“We’re working so hard to get the vaccines in places that are not ordinarily the focus,” said Biden, adding that the administration has worked to put vaccines in community health centers and drug stores.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons, Will Dunham and Cynthia Osterman