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Senate Approves $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Package

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The Senate voted 50–49 last week to approve a $1.9T pandemic relief package that will now have to be sent back to the House of Representatives because the Senate changed the legislation originally approved by the House. It is expected that the House will vote again on or around March 10 in time to get the bill on President Biden’s desk by March 14, before federal unemployment benefits are due to expire.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Rental assistance: Emergency rental assistance and other relief for the homeless would get $30B of which $21.5B is specifically for emergency rental assistance.
  • Unemployment benefits: The existing $300 weekly unemployment benefits will be extended through Sept. 6, as well as provide a tax break on $10,000 in unemployment benefits.
  • Stimulus checks: Direct payment of $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 $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for married couples.
  • Minimum wage: The effort to increase to $15 did not win over enough Democratic support.
  • Child tax credit: $3,000 a year for each child ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 for each child under age 6 and would last one year.
  • Aid to state and local governments: $350 billion for states, cities, tribal governments, and U.S. territories.
  • Pandemic response:  Tens of billions of dollars will fund coronavirus testing and contact tracing; increasing the size of the public health workforce and funding vaccine distribution and supply chains.