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President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act in the Oval Office on Thursday, one day earlier than originally scheduled.

The latest: White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing shortly after the signing that Americans with direct deposit set up can expect to see relief payments hitting their bank accounts "as early as this weekend."

Why it matters: The enactment of the massive coronavirus relief plan cements Biden's first major legislative victory and comes exactly one year after the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization.

The big picture: Federal agencies will now face the daunting task of implementing one of the largest economic relief packages in U.S. history, which is projected to lift millions out of poverty in addition to supporting businesses and other institutions hit hard by the pandemic.

  • Key provisions of the bill include direct payments to Americans, an expansion of the child tax credit, aid to state and local governments, billions for the distribution of vaccines and more.
  • See a full breakdown.

Driving the news: Biden will kick off a "Help is Here" public relations blitz on Tuesday with a visit to Delaware County, Pa. — a suburb of Philadelphia that helped the president clinch his Electoral College victory. On Friday, March 16, Biden and Vice President Harris will travel to Atlanta.

  • The tour is part of a broader strategy to sell the landmark legislative accomplishment, something that Team Biden believes will net the new president political rewards President Obama never saw for his 2009 financial recovery package.
  • The White House rolled out a new website on Thursday that allows Americans to find out how to receive their direct payments and other ways that the relief package will affect them.

On Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET, in his first primetime speech, Biden plans to "launch the next phase of the COVID response, and explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people," according to the White House.

  • In a sneak peek, Biden said the speech — expected to run under 20 minutes — will "talk about what we went through as a nation this past year. But more importantly, I’m going to talk about what comes next."

Go deeper: Full breakdown of the relief bill

Go deeper

1 dead as severe storms pummel the South

A tree that fell on a home carport damaged a vehicle during a storm in Central, Louisiana. No injuries were reported, according to Central Fire Department. Photo: Central Fire Department/Twitter

Strong storms lashed the South early Saturday, spawning at least one tornado and unleashing strong winds and hail. And forecasters more severe weather was expected to hit the parts of the region in the coming hours.

Details: Thousands of customers lost power during the storms in Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, according to tracking site poweroutage.us. An F3 tornado that hit St Landry Parish, Louisiana, killed one person and wounded seven others.

Scoop: Biden eyes Russia adviser criticized as soft on Kremlin

Photo: Alexander Shcherbak\TASS via Getty Images

President Biden is considering appointing Matthew Rojansky, head of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute, as Russia director on the National Security Council, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: Rojansky has been praised for his scholarship on Russia and is frequently cited in U.S. media for his expert commentary. But his work has drawn criticism — including in a 2018 open letter from Ukrainian alumni of Kennan that blasted the think tank he runs as an "unwitting tool of Russia’s political interference."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hold steady at 65,000 per day — CDC declares racism "a serious public health threat" — WHO official: Brazil is dealing with "raging inferno" of a COVID outbreak.
  2. Vaccines: America may be close to hitting a vaccine wall — Pfizer asks FDA to expand COVID vaccine authorization to adolescents — CDC says Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply will drop 80% next week.
  3. Economy: Treasury says over 156 million stimulus payments sent out since March — More government spending expected as IMF projects 6% global GDP growth.
  4. Politics: Supreme Court ends California's coronavirus restrictions on home religious meetings.
  5. World: Iran tightens COVID restrictions amid fourth wave of pandemic.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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