Update March 11, 2021: President Biden has signed this measure into law.
By Miriam Raftery
March 8, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – By a 50-49 margin without a single Republican vote, Senate Democrats passed a COVID-19 relief measure that now heads back to the House to approve changes. The House is expected to approve the bill as early as Tuesday, which President Joe Biden has said he will sign into law immediately.
The measure includes a new round of stimulus checks for most Americans and extension of unemployment benefits, but also many less-publicized forms of aid ranging from expansion of child tax credits to relief for restaurants, event venues, and other businesses hardest hit by the pandemic and much more.
One major element removed in the Senate version of the bill is a minimum wage increase, which the Senate Parliamentarian ruled did not fit the rules required to pass the stimulus bill by a simple majority vote needed to avoid a filibuster. The Biden administration is expected to propose a separate bill to address the minimum wage issue in the future.
Here are highlights of what the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill includes:
- $1,400 per person for individuals earning under $75,000
- $2,800 for married couples earning under $150,000
- $1,400 per dependent
- Payments would decrease for those earning above those levels, with nothing for those earning more than $80,000 for individuals or $160,000 for married couples
- Extends unemployment benefits through early September
- Extends the $300 a week supplemental unemployment benefit previously approved due to the pandemic
- Waives federal income taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits in 2020 for households earning less than $150,000
Targeted business relief
- A $28.6 billion revitalization fund for restaurants will provide grants of up to $5 million each to hep restaurants recoup pandemic-related revenues losses
- $1.25 billion in grants are included for event venues, such as concert venues and theaters, following a “Save Our Stages” lobbying effort
- $3 billion to the aviation industry hard-hit by reduced travel
Child Tax Credit
- Temporarily raises the child tax credit, currently up to $2,000 for all minors. Under the bill, that would increase to up to $3,600 for children under age 5 and up to $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17 in a major effort to reduce child poverty.
More help for families and workers
- Expands child and dependent care tax credit for 2021
- Expands earned-income tax credit for workers without children for 2021
- Temporarily increase subsidies for buying health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, such as Covered California
- Provides billions of dollars to fund veterans’ health care and public health programs
- Covers full cost of COBRA premiums through September to help those who lost jobs keep health insurance through their former employer
- Exempts student loan forgiveness from income taxes
Schools and local governments
- Provides $350 billion for states, local governments, territories and tribal governments
- Funds vaccine distribution, COVID-19 testing and contact tracing
- Allocates $130 billion to help K-12 schools reopen
- Additional funds are provided for colleges and universities
- Funds are also included for housing assistance, food aid, transit agencies and childcare providers