The $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill passed by the House of Representatives early Saturday would extend unemployment compensation by more than five months and give survivors an additional $400 a week.
The Senate is now going to consider the legislation. Democrats in the Chamber will approve the bill by a simple majority using a budget rule called conciliation.
The aim of the Democrats is to send the measure to President Joe Biden by 14 March. At the point, millions will lose their jobless insurance without new legislation.
According to the Labor Department, more than 19 million Americans were receiving compensation at the beginning of February.
Unemployment benefits extended
The bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, would increase the duration of benefits offered through temporary pandemic relief programs. Aid would end Aug. 29 instead of March 14.
Those programs include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for self-employed, gig and other workers who don’t qualify for state-level assistance; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which pays extra weeks of state benefits to the long-term unemployed.
The bill would offer PUA recipients a maximum 74 weeks of benefits, up from 50. PEUC recipients would get up to 48 weeks instead of 24. (More detail from CNBC)
What’s in the COVID relief bill?
A look at some highlights of the legislation:
$1,400 stimulus checks
The legislation provides a rebate that amounts to $1,400 for a single taxpayer, or $2,800 for a married couple that files jointly, plus $1,400 per dependent. Individuals earning up to $75,000 would get the full amount as would married couples with incomes up to $150,000.
The size of the check would shrink for those making slightly more with a hard cut-off at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for married couples.
Bigger tax break for households with kids
Under current law, most taxpayers can reduce their federal income tax bill by up to $2,000 per child. The package moving through the House would increase the tax break to $3,000 for every child age 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under the age of 6.
The legislation also calls for the payments to be delivered monthly instead of in one lump sum. If the secretary of the Treasury determines that isn’t feasible, then the payments are to be made as frequently as possible.
Aid to states and cities
The legislation would send $350 billion to state and local governments and tribal governments. While Republicans in Congress have largely objected to this initiative, Biden’s push has some GOP support among governors and mayors.
Many communities have taken hits to their tax base as millions of people have lost their jobs and as people stay home and avoid restaurants and stores to prevent getting COVID-19. Many areas have also seen expenses rise as they work to treat the sick and ramp up vaccinations.
Aid to schools
The bill calls for $130 billion in additional help to schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The money would be used to reduce class sizes and modify classrooms to enhance social distancing, install ventilation systems and purchase personal protective equipment. The money could also be used to increase the hiring of nurses, counselors and to provide summer school.
Spending for colleges and universities would be boosted by $40 billion, with the money used to defray an institution’s pandemic-related expenses and to provide emergency aid to students to cover expenses such as food and housing and computer equipment.
Aid to businesses
The bill provides another round of relief for airlines and eligible contractors, $15 billion, so long as they refrain from furloughing workers or cutting pay through September. It’s the third round of support for airlines.
A new program for restaurants and bars hurt by the pandemic would receive $25 billion. The grants provide up to $10 million per entity with a limit of $5 million per physical location. The grants can be used to cover payroll, rent, utilities and other operational expenses.
Expanded unemployment benefits
Expanded unemployment benefits from the federal government would be extended, with an increase from $300 a week to $400 a week. That’s on top of what beneficiaries are getting through their state unemployment insurance program.
The bill provides money for key elements of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response, while also trying to advance longstanding Democratic priorities like increasing coverage under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.
Raising the mimimum wage to $15 per hour
The bill would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by June 2025 and then adjust it to increase at the same rate as median hourly wages.
More news headline:
3rd stimulus check: House passes Covid relief bill with $1,400 payments
How much will I get?
House committees have approved giving the full $1,400 to individuals with incomes of up to $75,000 (phasing out until $100,000) and $2,800 for married couples earning up to $150,000 (phasing out until $200,000), similar to the first two rounds of stimulus checks. Roughly 85% of U.S. adults would be eligible for the full amount, based on your income from your most recent tax return.
Combined with the $600 stimulus checks approved by President Donald Trump in December, the package would mean $2,000 in direct payments to most Americans.
Parents would also receive $1,400 per dependent, instead of $600 in the first two rounds, and this third round of checks will include eligible adult dependents for the first time. The previous two rounds were limited to children under age 17, so parents with college-age students can expect even more money. (More detail from Syracuse.com)