Biden signs $1.9 trillion relief bill before speech to nation

President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief package, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Marking a year of loss and disruption, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the $1.9 trillion relief package that he said will help the U.S. defeat the coronavirus and nurse the economy back to health. Some checks to Americans could begin arriving this weekend.

The signing came hours before Biden delivers his first prime-time address since taking office. He's aiming to steer the nation toward a hungered-for sentiment - hope - as he marks one year since the onset of the pandemic that has killed more than 529,000 Americans.

"This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country," Biden said as he signed the bill in the Oval Office.

Most noticeable to many Americans are provisions providing up to $1,400 direct payments this year to most people, some of which could begin landing in bank accounts this weekend, and extending $300 weekly emergency unemployment benefits into early September.