The Senate Passed a $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill. Heres Whats In It
The senate passed a one point nine trillion dollar covid nineteen relief. Bill here's what senate by elena abramson the senate on saturday afternoon narrowly passed a one point nine trillion dollar cove nineteen relief package a key milestone for president joe biden to ink his first legislative priority into law the avalanche of federal dollars which clock in at approximately nine percent of the country's gross domestic product includes fourteen hundred dollar checks for middle and lower income. Americans extend unemployment insurance through much of the summer and provides seventy billion dollars to increase vaccine distribution and coronavirus testing. The bill was passed entirely along party. Lines with all senate. Democrats supporting it and all republicans opposing. This nation has suffered too much for much. Too long biden said in remarks from the white house on saturday. Everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation and put us in a better position to prevail starting with beating this virus and vaccinating the country. The house which already passed version of the bill on february. twenty seventh is slated to vote on the amended. Text on tuesday before sending it to biden's desk so he can sign it into law. Here is a look at six major components of the bill direct payments for millions of americans under the senate plan individuals making up to seventy five thousand dollars in couples. Making up to one hundred. Fifty thousand dollars per year are eligible to receive a fourteen hundred dollar check individuals. Earning between seventy five thousand and eighty thousand dollars and couples. Earning between one hundred fifty thousand dollars. One hundred sixty thousand dollars will receive some of that money but not the full amount. The eligibility thresholds are a change from the house's initial version which kept the threshold at one hundred thousand dollars for individuals and two hundred thousand dollars for couples senate. Democrats lowered the eligibility for the stimulus checks to get all democrats onboard after resistance from some moderates in their party. The decision means that an estimated seventeen million americans who received a check under former president. Donald trump won't get one under biden. According to a study from a nonpartisan institute on taxation and economic policy biden said on saturday that the government will begin sending the checks to eligible americans. This month extended unemployment insurance current federal unemployment benefits. Which a lot an additional three hundred dollars per week on top of state benefits are set to expire on march fourteenth. The senate bill extends the program through september sixth at three hundred dollars per week for households. Earning under one hundred fifty thousand dollars. The first ten thousand two hundred dollars of the unemployment benefits are non taxable to prevent surprise billing at the end of the year. These were also changes from the house version of the bill which provided four hundred dollars per week through all twenty ninth. The reduction in unemployment insurance in the senate version was implemented to ensure moderate senator. Joe manchin a democrat from west. Virginia would not break with his party. According to a democratic aide expanded tax credits for families. The bill raises the child tax credit for most families in the coming year by one thousand dollars to three thousand dollars per child. It's even more for families with young children. Many can receive credit of three thousand six hundred dollars for each child under age six. All of these credits are fully refundable and some researchers say these measures could potentially help cut child poverty and half funding for state and local governments and public schools. The bill delivers a three hundred fifty billion dollar cash infusion to state and local governments and one hundred thirty billion dollars to elementary middle and high schools to help them reopen safely. Local budgets have faced steep declines in revenue as businesses remain shuttered during the pandemic last september. The brookings institute estimated that state and local revenues would decline by one hundred fifty five billion dollars in twenty twenty one hundred sixty seven billion dollars in twenty twenty one and one hundred forty five billion dollars in twenty twenty two. The money for schools is designed to help them improve their ventilation systems. Hire more janitors and reduced class sizes to conform with social distancing protocols. Democrats argued that this money was necessary to save public sector jobs and enable teachers and students to return to classrooms without risking their health. Republicans said that the funding already allocated through. Last year's relief bills was sufficient and that sending more money the state and local governments was superfluous relief for restaurants. The bill includes traditional fifty billion dollars in assistance for small businesses including more than seven billion dollars for the troubled payment protection program and a break from previous relief packages. This bill provides twenty eight point. Six billion dollars in grant relief specifically for restaurants which have been particularly decimated by the pandemic according to a january. Twenty twenty one analysis from the national restaurant association. The industry's sales for twenty twenty. Two hundred forty billion dollars lower than the pre covid nineteen forecast and over one hundred. Ten thousand restaurants had temporarily or permanently shut their doors across the country. This is a decisive moment for the independent restaurant and bar community. Erica palmar executive director of the independent restaurant. Coalition said after the bill passed the senate covid nineteen testing and vaccine distribution the bill allocates twenty billion dollars in funding for vaccine distribution including one billion dollars for the centers for disease control and prevention to launch a vaccine awareness and engagement campaign and seven and a half billion dollars for the cdc to set up back station sites across the country and monitor distribution. The bill also includes fifty billion dollars to increase cova testing.